A heartfelt parenthood tale that elicits laughter and tears in equal measure.


The Grace of the Ginkgo

A despondent man starts life anew when he unexpectedly becomes the guardian of his infant granddaughter.

David Foley, a former Roman Catholic now comfortable with his atheism, falls into depression after his son, Patrick, is killed in the Gulf War. He moves to Louisville, Kentucky, to be closer to his pregnant daughter-in-law, Kathryn, but she also dies, in childbirth. Overwhelmed with love as he holds his orphaned granddaughter, Liesl, for the first time, David decides to adopt her.  Despite these early tragedies, the novel’s tone lightens as David experiences the pratfalls of raising a child alone. When he picks up Liesl from the hospital but forgets to bring an infant car carrier, he realizes his life will never be the same. Over the next quarter century, David copes with the calamities of being a single parent while also trying to have something of a love life. He has a brief affair with a younger woman, culminating in the realization that she was using him for research for her thesis. His crankiness and humor elevate every situation he gets into. When an aggressive driver of a black station wagon confronts him, David shoots him with a taser. The protagonist then heaves the incapacitated man onto the hood of the station wagon, pulls “his pants down to his ankles,” and departs. David frequently recalls incidents from his childhood in Catholic school, but despite his open atheism (he “saw the lack of light”), he forms strong bonds with Kathryn’s Catholic family. In this moving first adult novel by Hardesty (Honey Bun and Chip, 2012, etc.), music is a constant source of inspiration for David, as is the gingko tree in his backyard, which reminds him to live life on his own terms. Despite occasionally flowery language (“I regaled in the entirety of this spectacle”) and more than a touch of low humor, this warm story highlights the sweet moments of an ordinary life. Near the end of his days, David is thankful for the women who have always been there for him—friends, family, and lovers—as he makes the most difficult decision of all.

A heartfelt parenthood tale that elicits laughter and tears in equal measure.

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-938462-23-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Old Stone Press

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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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