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A MATTER OF PRIDE

AND OTHER STORIES

Seven stories that focus on the lives of Hispanic women offer some intriguing possibilities, but the repetitiveness of the plots and the similarities of the characters' epiphanies lessen the impact. Told in a disappointing prose that explains rather than explores, Mohr's tales all touch on the lives of displaced women coming to terms with the restrictions of their culture. The title piece is symptomatic: In 1959, Paula and Charlie leave their native New York for a honeymoon in Puerto Rico. Paula expects the vacation of her dreams, but Charlie takes off with some old buddies and refuses to return until he's had his bit of fun—which leaves Paula in the restrictive house of relatives, where she's told how a new Puerto Rican wife is to act: A husband's infidelities are expected, and ironing his shirts so that he's presentable to his mistress is a matter of domestic pride. Paula realizes that she can't live so limited a life and opts for independence. Several stories are identical in agenda, depicting young Puerto Rican New Yorkers breaking free of their oppressive relationships with domineering men to explore their own identities. ``Memories: R.I.P.'' diverges in telling the tale of a close-knit family in the 1950s torn apart when an older brother starts to sell heroin from their South Bronx apartment. Younger sister Patty returns to the old neighborhood many years later to witness the urban decay that the onslaught of drugs—and indirectly her own family's complicity—helped create. ``Utopia, and the Super Estrellas'' presents a congenial portrait of transvestites in a remote mountain village, but the few stories that transcend the author's narrow pattern don't do enough to make up for the overall sameness of the collection. Mohr (Rituals of Survival, 1985), also a children's author, attempts a feminist interpretation, but the conclusions are often more facile than persuasive.

Pub Date: June 15, 1997

ISBN: 1-55885-163-1

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Arte Público

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1997

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MAGIC HOUR

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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