A harrowing work that conveys chaos, confusion and raw fear.



Eck’s debut follows a group of American GIs who are left behind in enemy territory and must find their way back.

In an unnamed, presumably African city occupied by the U.S. Army, a group of six soldiers are left behind while guarding their unit. Each has a battle partner: Heath and Fizer; Santiago and Zeller; and Cooper and the narrator, Josh Stanz. Josh and Cooper are the quiet members of the group. Cooper, a native of the occupied country who fled to America as a child with his grandparents after his parents had been murdered, is known throughout the unit for being a religious virgin devoted to a girl at home. Josh is more introspective, cursed with a nervous stomach, an active guilty conscience and a fervent desire to get home safely and make it to college. While on guard, Santiago and Zeller open fire on a group in the building, who turn out to be unarmed children. Justifiably fearing retribution, the group moves, but not before Cooper is shot by enemy fire. Cooper’s death is poignantly unceremonious and unsentimental, as is most of the novel. The soldiers debate about his remains and use his food and water, and all are forced to accept the loss with little emotion. The soldiers continue to move, occasionally linking up with locals for various purposes (in Santiago and Zeller’s cases, usually casual sex). Josh finds a brief kinship with a man named Michael, and in one conversation, they illuminate the mysteries of modern warfare—is it possible, as Josh claims, that America is actually losing lives in, and taking lives from, this country to be of help? Eventually, after collecting countless physical and emotional wounds and nearly succumbing to hunger and dehydration, the group is reunited with their compatriots, which is when they learn that they have only just been listed as missing. In such novels as The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien perfected the art of nuanced war fiction. Eck follows in his footsteps, emphasizing not the drama of the soldier’s ordeal, but the painstaking, spirit-breaking, heart-wrenching details.

A harrowing work that conveys chaos, confusion and raw fear.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-57131-057-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Milkweed

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?