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A weepy account of a young woman’s accidental death and its effect on her family and friends, by the author of Friends for Life (1994), etc. Sara Swerdlow is not what you—d call a slacker, but she’s definitely taken her own sweet time in finding herself. Now in her 30s, she is a graduate student at Columbia, pursuing a doctorate in Japanese history that she fears will lead her no closer to a career than she is already. Resolutely single, Sara has attracted a steady procession of unsuitable boyfriends, the most recent being an environmental lawyer named Sloan, who is pleasant, dull, and usually out of town. Her best friend is the very successful playwright Adam Langer (—the gay Neil Simon—), a classmate from Wesleyan. For years now, Sara and Adam and two of their other Wesleyan friends’schoolteacher Peter and lawyer Maddy, a married couple—have rented a house on Long Island for a month each summer. This year they continue the tradition, but the familiar rhythm of the summer holiday is shattered when Sara is killed in a car accident during the first week of their stay. Stunned and distraught, the remaining three pass their days in a stupor of grief—until Sara’s mother Natalie arrives to collect her daughter’s personal belongings and allow them to pay their respects. Adam and the others prevail upon Natalie to stay with them for the remainder of the vacation. The four pass their time, then, reminiscing about Sara and to terms with her death. When they all return home at the end of the month, they find that their friendship has in some sense blunted the pain of their loss. Oppressively sentimental, Wolitzer’s story quickly feels as cramped as a Hamptons time-share on the Fourth of July. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-684-84844-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999

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Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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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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