Thin and thinly written tale of second chances.


The travails of a newly single mother.

It never rains but it pours: Kennedy Smith’s selfish husband, Frank, has decided to become a yoga teacher and give up his lucrative law practice. And he’s dating his high school flame, Sunny the surfer, who’s sporting a big diamond only four months after Kennedy and Frank’s separation. The kids are upset: Amanda, five, refers to her father as a “dickhead”; and her half-sister Maya, fifteen, has decided to search for her biological father, Marco Rivera, even though she’s heard all about his problems with drugs. He and Kennedy split up years ago, and Kennedy would just as soon Maya not try to find him, but the stubborn daughter pooh-poohs her objections. Still, Kennedy has other things to worry about, like taking Frank’s Brooks Brothers suits to the Goodwill. And then? Living in the imaginary suburb of Homewood, outside of New York, just hasn’t prepared her for anything like this. Frank handled all the hard stuff, like highway driving, though Kennedy did sometimes take the Volvo as far as the nearest mall. And then there’s money. Her lifelong friend Jeannie offers her minimum wage in her adorable-thingies boutique, but Kennedy can’t meet her expenses selling tulips and dishcloths. So? Well, a pilgrimage to former haunts in the East Village might turn up Marco—and is it possible that McGlynn’s, the neighborhood bar owned and managed by her former flame, is still there? And are those the brawny biceps of Declan McGlynn as he pulls a pint of Guinness? The studly Irishman is right where she left him, the pub reassuringly ungentrified, still the kind of place where everybody knows your name—sort of like everybody knows the rest of this plot. Has Declan grown up enough to make a commitment? Will Marco bond with the daughter he abandoned? Will Kennedy find the happiness she seeks?

Thin and thinly written tale of second chances.

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7434-6354-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Downtown Press/Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2003

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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