A well-written story of an outsider in a house of beauties and problems that are more than skin-deep.

THE LUCKIEST GIRLS

An orphaned teenager moves into her grandmother’s model-filled town house.

In this debut YA novel, newly orphaned Jane Archer moves to New York to live with her grandmother Gigi Towers, founder of a modeling agency. Several of Gigi’s young models live in her house, and the narration rotates among Jane, who has trouble adjusting to upper-class life and Gigi’s high standards; Maya, whose prominent family’s disdain for her modeling career only exacerbates her eating disorders and cutting; and Campbell Tucker, a Southerner who sees her status go from bottom of the heap to it girl over a few months. The models face professional challenges, drug problems, harassment from men in the industry, and tough love from Gigi while Jane slowly settles in and finds her place with the “weirdos” at school and discovers a passion for filmmaking. Tensions increase as Campbell lands her first movie role, and Jane eventually solves the mystery of who in the house has been threatening the model’s career. The book takes a dark turn in the final pages, but by the end, all three protagonists have grown emotionally. Fuson has created an engaging world in Gigi’s town house, with well-developed main characters and a strong supporting cast. Jane’s relationship with Gigi, which begins with open hostility and evolves into mutual respect, is plausible and compelling. The author is clearly knowledgeable about the modeling industry, with its “go-sees” and bookers—and the particular problems that Maya faces as one of the few black models. Although the plot is slow to develop in the opening chapters—in which the audience is reminded several times that Jane is distinctly not the model type—the pacing soon establishes itself, and readers will be turning pages quickly by the midpoint. The prose is solid, and if the theme of models who are more than just their looks is not entirely original, it is still well presented in an enjoyable narrative that will easily hold readers’ attention.

A well-written story of an outsider in a house of beauties and problems that are more than skin-deep.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-73371-730-4

Page Count: 132

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

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.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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