A refreshingly quirky and sharply written family tale.



In this novel, a young man finds a naked woman on his couch and must confront the possibility that she’s traveled through time. 

Angus Wendell is a quietly ordinary man. He has an unspectacular job, lives alone in an apartment on Long Island, and possesses “a face no more arresting than the next one in the throng.” But his routine is thrown into disarray when one day he wakes up and spots a naked woman—a stranger—fast asleep on his couch. When she finally stirs, Sylvia Tipton, as astonished at the circumstances as Angus is, confesses she has no idea how she got there; the last thing she remembers is a terrible fire that consumed her grandfather. And then the shocking incident takes a turn for the weird: Sylvia claims to live in Brooklyn, but when Angus drives her to the address she provides, there’s a McDonald’s there. In addition, she’s never seen a cellphone before—or watched Star Wars—and seems wildly out of touch with the world. Finally, Angus discovers the source of her confusion: She thinks it’s 1943 (it’s actually 2014). But when Angus starts to check her claims, in particular regarding her family and the fire, he discovers they’re true. Even more startling, he inadvertently learns that he and Sylvia have a connection, which causes Angus to believe there’s something suspicious about the nature of his family’s business—the clan owns a museum and deals in antiquities. Marullo (Gludman’s Proof, 2013, etc.) masterfully presents a wildly implausible story in such a way that it seems possible—Sylvia is astonishingly convincing: “The ironclad sincerity through which she narrated events in her life made it feel natural to take everything she said as gospel.” And beneath the fantastical mystery and crime drama is a sensitive examination of Angus’ discontentment with life—he has a degree in art history and wants to pursue a career in that cosmos but is discouraged by his hilariously dysfunctional family. The author has an impressive talent for blending farcical comedy with emotional authenticity. 

A refreshingly quirky and sharply written family tale.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-578-42705-8

Page Count: 341

Publisher: Marullo Publications

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2019

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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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