Interesting vignettes, but this novel never feels whole. Though billed as women’s fiction, the book will be of more interest...



A teenage girl spends short stints in London, Ghana and the United States with various family members.

Lila, 15, lives with her divorced mother in London. Her absent father has his own family in the States, leaving Lila and her mother to lean heavily on each other for company and support. This makes her mother’s sudden decision to ship Lila off to Ghana and unload her onto Auntie Irene all the more shocking. Lila’s mother proves to be selfish, immature, impossible to empathize with and difficult to believe in as a character. Lila’s time at Ghanaian boarding school is striking—details like the struggle to find drinking water, eating before flies settle on the food and learning to sweep with a reed broom paint a true picture of African life. Unfortunately, just as we are settling into the developing world, Lila is called back to London. Just as quickly, she is sent to the States for an odd Disneyland vacation with her father and his Christian sing-along family, who are strangers to Lila. Time and again Lila is uprooted so quickly that the narrative cannot keep up emotionally. The effort to depict people and places seems wasted, as each time we become invested in a place and a lifestyle, we are promptly plucked out and moved. Though this mirrors Lila’s efforts to comprehend her kaleidoscope life, readers will only find themselves rushed, not pensive, and left without any literary or emotional payoff. Lila’s narrative is a mix of tragedies and blessings, but the end is wrapped up in a neat, barely credible ribbon that is tied just as hastily as the book’s other chapters. Readers will recognize that Lila has been given short shrift by the adults in her unstable life, but they may never figure out the reason for journeying with her.

Interesting vignettes, but this novel never feels whole. Though billed as women’s fiction, the book will be of more interest to younger readers.

Pub Date: April 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4391-2610-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Washington Square/Pocket

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2010

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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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Cheerfully engaging.


From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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