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MIRACLE GIRLS

Short story writer (Lucy on the West Coast, 1996) Caschetta’s first novel is filled with a kind of dark poetry and the...

In upstate New York, young girls go missing, nuns are revolting, Nixon is resigning, and young Cee-Cee Bianco has visions of the Virgin Mary in this polished debut novel.

Ten-year-old Cee-Cee has a broken family: Father Frank goes on drunken benders, mother Glory runs away for weeks at a time, middle brother Roadie is wracked with guilt over his burgeoning homosexuality, and eldest Anthony is…a little off. Cee-Cee and Baby Pauly cling to each other, as close as twins. One cold day Anthony lures the kids into the woods behind the house, and as something terrible, miraculous, mysterious happens to Cee-Cee there, a chorus of saints advises her on how to save Pauly, who has fallen into a frozen pond while running for help. Cee-Cee eventually wakes from a fever, but Pauly, alive despite spending hours under the ice, is at a rehabilitation center on life support. Cee-Cee is brought to live with her Nonna, who lives across from the Sisters of the Order of Christ’s Most Precious Wounds; with her visions and messages, Cee-Cee is a favorite of the nuns, particularly the Mother General, Sister Amanda. Sister Amanda, secretly working for a number of progressive causes (and suspected by the FBI of building bombs), funnels an army of young women, always in pairs and all called Miranda, through Nonna’s spare room before moving them on to some other task. Girls disappear, Cee-Cee’s friend Mary Margaret keeps burying baby brothers and sisters, Roadie claims Cee-Cee’s attacker wore a blue jacket just like Father Giuseppe, but the dangers “out there” feel much closer, more threatening, and it’s up to Cee-Cee to find the truth, which might take a miracle.

Short story writer (Lucy on the West Coast, 1996) Caschetta’s first novel is filled with a kind of dark poetry and the menace of ordinary evils.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-938126-15-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Engine Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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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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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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