Competently written, but not at all sure what it wants to be.



Southern belle raises a ruckus.

Keeley Murdock always had the best of everything—and her upcoming wedding to A.J. Jernigan is just going to be peachy. Why, each guest will receive a precious little Limoges box with the names of the bride and groom hand-lettered in genuine 14-karat gold, just for starters. They’ve got to do things right, since it seems like everybody spent a small fortune on her and A.J.—and when the guests get done pawing through the heap of expensive wedding gifts at the Sip ’N See tea, maybe Keeley will calm down a little. Or maybe not. Just what is her best friend and bridesmaid Paige doing with A.J. on the boardroom table at the Oconee Hills Country Club? Why is A.J. hiccupping the way he always does when he has an orgasm? It’s time to burst through that door and have a good old-fashioned—you guessed it—hissy fit. The wedding is off! A.J. decamps, using their honeymoon tickets not long after. Keeley will survive, though this is a mess that even her doting daddy can’t fix. He’s been trying to make her life perfect ever since her mother disappeared 25 years ago. And so has Keeley, an upscale interior decorator who’s awfully particular about details. But her heart’s in the right place. She complains that her latest and richest client, Will Mahoney, owner of the Loving Cup bra company, is trying to export local jobs overseas (she takes his money anyway). By the way, what the hell ever happened to her mama? Did that no-account relative of slutty Paige kill her and put the body down a well? Time to dig a little deeper—in this uneasy mix of chick lit, melodrama, and little-bitty mystery from the author of Savannah Blues (2002).

Competently written, but not at all sure what it wants to be.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-06-056464-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2004

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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