A brief yet masterful novel of epic breadth.

THE WALLCREEPER

Zink’s cerebral, fast-paced first novel chronicles a young woman’s life in Europe after marrying a man she’s known for three weeks.

Following her husband, Stephen, from Philadelphia to Bern, Switzerland, for his research and development job at a medical device firm, Tiffany explains, “We didn’t talk much about what we were doing. We had a deal.” They’re both whip-smart, but strangers, and the “deal” for Tiffany in this dark, philosophical sex comedy goes sour from the word go. After Stephen hits a bird with the car, swerves and crashes into a large rock, Tiffany miscarries, and he worries more about capturing the bird—the wallcreeper of the title—than helping her; weeks later, he forces her into anal sex. “I gasped for air, dreading the moment when he would pull out, and thought, Girls are lame.” She half-jokes, “I felt like the Empress Theodora. Can I get more orifices?” but notes, “My sense of depending on Stephen for my happiness had evaporated.” He does offer stability, though, so she stays married since she’d rather not work and has no degree or experience to bank on. They have affairs openly, and after his career goes sideways (drugs, heavy birding), their love survives, mostly as a hypnotic ideal. Moving to Germany, they live apart and become environmental activists, navigating complex public policy on natural resources—a subject Zink mines for humor and a sociopolitical counterpoint to Tiffany’s personal chaos—then reunite for a harrowing trek by donkey through Albania. Tiffany agrees she’s no feminist and doesn’t argue when a friend quips about her life’s trajectory, “My love, you have the attention span of a fish.” But at a remove from the uproarious, inventive and infinitely quotable sentences, Tiffany’s lonely existence careens from sex toward self-knowledge as death breezes by late in the book.

A brief yet masterful novel of epic breadth.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9897607-1-3

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Dorothy

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • National Book Award Finalist

A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

ALMOST JUST FRIENDS

Piper Manning is determined to sell her family’s property so she can leave her hometown behind, but when her siblings come back with life-changing secrets and her sexy neighbor begins to feel like “The One,” she might have to redo her to-do list.

As children, Piper and her younger siblings, Gavin and Winnie, were sent to live with their grandparents in Wildstone, California, from the Congo after one of Gavin’s friends was killed. Their parents were supposed to meet them later but never made it. Piper wound up being more of a parent than her grandparents, though: “In the end, Piper had done all the raising. It’d taken forever, but now, finally, her brother and sister were off living their own lives.” Piper, the queen of the bullet journal, plans to fix up the family’s lakeside property her grandparents left the three siblings when they died. Selling it will enable her to study to be a physician’s assistant as she’s always wanted. However, just as the goal seems in sight, Gavin and Winnie come home, ostensibly for Piper’s 30th birthday, and then never leave. Turns out, Piper’s brother and sister have recently managed to get into a couple buckets of trouble, and they need some time to reevaluate their options. They aren’t willing to share their problems with Piper, though they’ve been completely open with each other. And Winnie, who’s pregnant, has been very open with Piper’s neighbor Emmitt Reid and his visiting son, Camden, since the baby’s father is Cam’s younger brother, Rowan, who died a few months earlier in a car accident. Everyone has issues to navigate, made more complicated by Gavin and Winnie’s swearing Cam to secrecy just as he and Piper try—and fail—to ignore their attraction to each other. Shalvis keeps the physical and emotional tension high, though the siblings’ refusal to share with Piper becomes tedious and starts to feel childish.

Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296139-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

more