A fun and earnest tale for fans of international adventures, dry humor, and sexual awakenings.

READ REVIEW

THE BIG JIGGETY

OR THE RETURN OF THE KIND OF AMERICAN

A coming-of-age novel follows a sexually frustrated teenager who leaves France to study in America.

When Albert Nostran departs his family home in the Saint-Germain-sur-Morin commune of France to attend college in Missoula, Montana, he expects romance and reconnection with his roots. His father, an American-born journalist with a fiery temper, has always maintained a sense of nationalism and encouraged the wisecracking, horny teen to live in the U.S. Albert remembers “when growing up in France how I cherished the idea of coming to America, being in America…careen down ten-lane freeways in a Pontiac GTO convertible pursued by the Hell’s Angels and the Dalton Brothers headed by Marlon Brando, solve mysteries with Philip Marlowe and Raymond Chandler, take a dip in the Mississippi.” What follows is a fairly standard, but amusing and well-written tale that finds Albert navigating cultural differences and desperately chasing women for sex. At one point, he complains: “All my life people have told me to relax. I do not feel comfortable relaxing.” Set in 1977, the tale sprinkles in a number of cultural references, from Elvis Presley to La Fontaine, bringing a welcome perspective to a time that is often romanticized. Kent’s (All of the Night, 2015) keen observational skills provide wonderful snapshots of America from an outsider’s perspective. Dissecting U.S. television commercials, Albert muses: “Diarrhea medication and disarmament negotiations blend together to produce a most unsavory guacamole.” But at times, the protagonist’s reflections give way to curmudgeonly pontification (“Universities corrupt adolescents to transform them into insipid and self-righteous adults”), which distracts from the steady pace of the hijinks-filled tale. Albert is perhaps at his harshest when judging women. At one point, criticizing a plain-looking student he nevertheless pursues, he notes: “She typified some of the women of the New World who although oozing with ugliness remain arrogant.” Kent’s novel fits neatly within the tradition of well-crafted, meandering prose that tackles a young man’s maturation through the consumption of culture and women, which may leave some readers uncomfortable. Still, Albert’s experiences with American culture are drawn sharply into focus when the author smartly transports him back to Europe by the end of the story for a summer vacation. The student’s measured insights, shared with friends and family, and his subsequent capers make for a charming and compelling read.

A fun and earnest tale for fans of international adventures, dry humor, and sexual awakenings.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2006

ISBN: 978-1-59926-737-1

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

A WEEK AT THE SHORE

A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

more