BEYOND MOLASSES CREEK

An affecting drama about the unmoored life of a woman whose infant was kidnapped 40 years ago.

Ally Green has come back to her father’s house in North Carolina’s low country, but not soon enough to hear his deathbed wish that she settle down. Strange advice for a 60-year-old woman, but Ally has been running away for a long time. As a child she befriended Vesey Washington, the black boy who lived on the other side of the river. The two would fish together, swap secrets and dreams and comfortable silences. As Ally grew, she fell in love with Vesey; in the civil-rights–era South, those were dangerous feelings. She ran to college, and then to a career as a stewardess, and then when she had a child out of wedlock at the same time as Vesey and his wife, she flew with her baby to Kathmandu. There her baby was kidnapped, and Ally spends the next 38 years running away from the crushing heartache of that moment. It took her daddy’s death to bring her back to her childhood home, and to Vesey, now widowed across the river. Slid in between Ally’s story is Sunila’s journey. A blue-eyed Nepalese woman who has lived her whole life in debt bondage, she escapes the stone yard with a secret, and the book of drawings found with her as an infant. Sunila makes it to the American Embassy with an incredible story confessed by her adoptive mother: as a baby she was kidnapped from a young American in a café. The book was Ally’s journal, filled with sketches of Vesey. As Ally harbors vague romantic notions about Vesey, she also begins to recognize the holding pattern her life has been in, first for want of Vesey, and then her stolen daughter. Seitz allows her story to quietly unfold as the two women come together, guaranteeing a few tears, for the women and the reader.

 

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59554-505-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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

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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

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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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