BROTHERLY LOVE

In his first novel since his NBA-winner Paris Trout (1988), Dexter tells the story of two cousins raised in a mob family in South Philadelphia. Peter Flood is only eight when he loses his little sister (to a neighbor's skidding car), then his grief-shattered mother (to a mental hospital), and finally his father Charley, ex-roofer and union boss. This is 1961; the Irish Floods control union jobs, the Italians and their aging boss Constantine control the streets. Disregarding Constantine's warning, Charley kills his aforementioned neighbor, an on-the-take cop, whereupon he is escorted to a meeting by his brother Phil from which he never returns. Not surprisingly, the relationship between the taciturn Peter and his uncle Phil, and sadistic cousin Michael, will be tense and wary. ``Youse are brothers,'' declares Phil; but that doesn't stop Michael from bashing his sleeping cousin with a hammer. Peter's refuge is the boxing gym run by Nick DiMaggio, a warmhearted type who builds while the mob destroys; nonetheless, when Phil is killed by the Italians (avenging the earlier rubout of Constantine), Peter agrees to help Michael reestablish control. Only when Michael orders Nick and his son Harry to be hit does Peter rebel, shooting his cousin at point-blank range. This novel is as dark as Paris Trout but lacks its narrative power, which derived from Trout's indomitable will battling the townsfolk. Here there is a similar tension in the fine opening section, Charley listening to his blood, his union brothers trying to stop the unstoppable; after that, the novel drifts and stalls. Peter is too passive for a struggle between the cousins to develop; nothing comes of the rumored war between the Irish and the Italians. We settle for a slow dance around Michael, a vicious creep but not big enough to pull everything together.*justify no*

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1991

ISBN: 0-394-58573-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1991

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A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

A WEEK AT THE SHORE

A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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