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Paris Runaway

A pleasant diversion with an appealing lead character and just enough tension to propel the narrative.

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In Kincer’s (Trail Mix, 2014, etc.) novel, a divorced mother of two flies off to Paris to chase after her runaway teenage daughter and rediscovers herself in the process. 

This enjoyable romp through Paris and Marseille combines the terror of a possible kidnapping with chick-lit–style romance. On Sadie Ford’s 50th birthday, she discovers that her 17-year-old daughter, Scarlett, hasn’t gone to spend the first two weeks of her summer vacation with her father, Drake, as planned. She has, in fact, flown off to Paris with the intention of losing her virginity to Luc Rollande, a foreign exchange student she knows from high school. Sadie books the first flight out of St. Petersburg, Florida, but Luc and Scarlett aren’t at Luc’s address. When Sadie finally connects with Luc’s father, Auguste, the two join forces to track down their missing offspring. In the midst of their angst and fear about what’s happened to the teenagers, Sadie and Auguste find themselves magnetically drawn to each other. As if this isn’t enough drama, Sadie receives a frantic phone call from her older daughter, Evangeline, who’s landed in a New Orleans hospital in the throes of a panic attack. What’s a mother to do? There’s more sparkle in this novel than one may expect from the general plot description. Even in her desperation to find Scarlett, Sadie is entranced by Paris, and through her wanderings, readers get a first-rate tour of the city, complete with the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes that make it unique: “The sounds of a Paris street engulfed me. A faraway church bell rang. Cars accelerated, all stick shifts.” Then there are Sadie’s observations of the (admittedly upscale) cultural differences that confound her as a displaced Floridian—including the time that locals devote to the details of every eating experience and the ubiquitous, sometimes-infuriating, tendency of Parisians to shrug in answer to questions. Kincer also has a knack for depicting the delicate line that parents walk when trying to simultaneously protect teens and respect their independence.

A pleasant diversion with an appealing lead character and just enough tension to propel the narrative.

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-365-18923-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A LITTLE LIFE

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

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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. 21, 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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