Brilliantly imagined and infused with a raw spirituality that cuts to the bone. Thon writes with lyric power about the lives...



A child of rape grows up to become a killer, in this third novel by the Whiting Award–winning author of First, Body (1997).

Frances Zimmer, a Native American girl of mixed heritage, was only 15 when she gave birth to Flint, while the white man who violated her and fathered the boy went unpunished. Frances’s strange, sad son has a taste for violence from a very young age; he sets fires and steals until an unforgiving judge sends him to a brutal reformatory for the next seven years. Isolated in solitary confinement much of the time, the rest terrorized by the other boys (whom he terrorizes in turn), Flint is nearly psychotic by the age of 16. He's cunning enough to stay alive, though, and he cherishes memories of his feckless, alcoholic mother and younger half-sister Cecile, carving their names into the walls of his cell. When Flint is released, his frightened mother, pregnant again, keeps him at a safe distance—literally. Banished under her porch, he sleeps rolled up in a filthy scrap of carpet, emerging only to steal food, money, and small objects, with gleefully amoral Cecile as his willing partner. But no one believes a little girl could be the culprit, and everyone blames Flint. Their mother's deaf sister, Marie, knows instinctively that the troubled boy is doomed, as were so many other family members, including grandmother Rina, who drowned herself. Rina’s poetic recollections of Native American ancestors form a dreamlike subtext to the narrative as Flint sinks deeper into madness and runs wild, taking Cecile with him. The severity of the crimes escalates—until a shattering, bloody climax.

Brilliantly imagined and infused with a raw spirituality that cuts to the bone. Thon writes with lyric power about the lives of lost souls who nonetheless passionately believe in a God “no longer capable of even the smallest miracles.”

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2001

ISBN: 0-395-78589-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2000

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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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