The author had some fun; the reader will too.

I AM NOT SIDNEY POITIER

Everett (The Water Cure, 2007, etc.) returns with what might be considered a wacky slapstick.

His allegory about race, class and celebrity takes a turn toward the silly, as the protagonist’s name—literally, “Not Sidney Poitier”— inspires all sorts of Abbott and Costello “Who’s on First?” riffing. (“Knot, with a k?”...“Not with a k”…“That’s what I said”… “N-O-T”…“Sidney?”… “Not my name is not Sidney. My name is Not Sidney.”) Not Sidney is an orphan, born to a crazy woman following a 24-month pregnancy. Yet his late mother was wiser than most of the other characters the young innocent will encounter in his wildly absurd travels across the American South. At least she had the good sense to invest early and often in the Turner Broadcasting System, leaving her son so rich he does not know the extent of his fortune. Since Not Sidney never knew his father, the two formative figures in his life are Ted Turner, who takes him in after his mother’s death, and Percival Everett, a buffoon of a professor who spouts nonsense as higher sense. (The standard disclaimer, that “this novel is NOT in any way a depiction of anyone living, dead or imagined by anyone other than the author,” is followed by a rather more unusual corollary: “This qualification applies, equally, to the character whose name is the same as the author’s.”) Turner and Everett rescue Not Sidney when he, like Huck Finn, attempts to light out for the territory and lands in the racist backwoods of Peckerwood County and Smuteye, Ala. Yet Not Sidney encounters racism in subtler ways, such as when a prospective girlfriend’s parents dismiss him as too dark until the extent of his fortune reveals him to be plenty light enough.

The author had some fun; the reader will too.

Pub Date: June 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-55597-527-2

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Graywolf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2009

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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