FALLING THROUGH TIME

A WOMAN'S JOURNEY TO THE FUTURE

Part Back to the Future with slivers of an Inconvenient Truth, Frank’s debut science-fiction novel starts with a fatal accident and ends with social and environmental responsibility.

A successful advertising executive, 42-year-old Summer has had over a dozen years of stressful board meetings, aggressive negotiations and an impressive winning streak of international accounts. But her high-octane life plummets out of control as subordinates conspire, and memory lapses make her the target of office gossip. She needs a break, a true holiday and rejuvenation. At her boss’ request, Summer books a hiking trip to Alaska, intent on climbing cliffs and rediscovering her inner tiger. As night sets over the terrain, her mind wanders and her footing fails. She stumbles into a crevasse, where her body remains in ice for more than 70 years. With a stellar opening and the naturally compelling question of “what happens next?”, the novel unravels the intricate details of Summer’s second life after she is found and revived from the snowcaps. Her old world is dead, wiped away by human wars and natural disasters. People have retreated into the wild, carving out small villages that live sustainably close to the land. Food is grown in gardens, and communities function as families. Summer struggles in this world where no one keeps secrets, fast food is extinct and love begins to thaw her cold heart. While the first three chapters show great promise in terms of pacing and prose, conflict and science-fictional aspects of the story fall to the wayside. Readers will ask themselves why certain characters are introduced in detail and then simply dropped from the narrative. At several points, the story analyzes humanity’s culpability in its own demise. For pages, Frank dispenses a dissertation of synthetic foods, artificial preservatives, pollution and even the idea of “latchkey kids.” As a result, the story resembles a lengthy lecture of humanity’s irresponsible behavior rather than an exploratory journey through time. While science fiction often touches on these themes, this book lacks the dramatic drive of other futuristic tales. With an honorable message of sustainability and a compelling opening sequence, the book struggles to deliver the sense of wonder and discovery that often defines this genre.

 

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0615530369

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Vibrant Village Media

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 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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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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