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Twelve Thousand Mornings

A gratifying follow-up that will leave readers clamoring for more.

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Driver-Thiel’s (The World Undone, 2012) sequel continues the story of Anne Bennett, a woman who, after a personal upheaval, must reconnect with her two estranged daughters.

For most of her adult life, Anne has been a reserved, unemotional woman. In a companionable yet loveless marriage to Henry, she has what seems to be an ideal life: affluence in a house that “had been featured in New England Designer Showcase Homes.” Anne wants for nothing—nothing except perhaps to forget about her rebellious daughter Sylvia. Seven years ago, just before her wedding in the previous book, Sylvia ran away to the unlikely state of Michigan. Not only that, but she had threatened to force Anne to meet Sylvia’s half sister Callie, whom Anne had given up for adoption as a teenager. The one to whom Anne, through her lawyer, had paid a hefty sum to never speak with again. However, when Henry dies suddenly from a heart attack, she learns that his business is under federal investigation. Nearly all her assets frozen, Anne moves in with her sister Julia. The visit goes from unpleasant to intolerable, so when Anne receives an invitation from Sylvia, she accepts. Anne is again reluctant, though, for she doesn’t know how or if she will ever repair their relationship, and she dreads seeing Callie, who lives and works nearby. In order to cobble together an entirely new life, Anne must challenge deeply rooted beliefs about herself and her family as she confronts emotions she has pushed down for far too long. Fans of Driver-Thiel’s first novel may be surprised by the shift from third- to first-person narration here, all in Anne’s point of view. They will likely understand, though, as Anne certainly has a lot of explaining to do. Through the story, Anne shifts from a model of arrogance and cruelty to a more receptive, pragmatic woman willing to accept and attempt to change her own faults. This progression is slow, almost imperceptible, so although readers may sometimes feel that Anne’s bouts of introspection are a bit lengthy, the overall impression of her transformation is satisfyingly realistic. In Driver-Thiel’s capable hands, the story hits its target: the possibility of redemption in even the unlikeliest of people.

A gratifying follow-up that will leave readers clamoring for more. 

Pub Date: March 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9886568-2-6

Page Count: 362

Publisher: Pine Lake Press, LLC

Review Posted Online: Aug. 24, 2015

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A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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