BORDERLINERS

A riveting departure from the Danish author whose novel Smilla's Sense of Snow was last year's surprising international bestseller. The narrator is a young man named Peter who recounts how he survived growing up in Danish orphanages and reform schools. Written in short blocks of concentrated text, the narrative skips around from memories of his childhood to meditations on the philosophy and history of time. Peter and his fellow ``borderliners''—those children who are in danger of being institutionalized for being hopelessly uncooperative with the reformist educational system—learn how to cope with the strict management of their every moment by trying to create time and space for themselves. At 14, after years of unhappily drifting through the institutional system, Peter and several other borderliners are given one last chance when they are transferred to an exclusive private school where, unknown to them, they have been sent in order to be guinea pigs in a secret government experiment where troubled students are integrated with regular, privileged students. At this Dickensian academy he befriends and tries to protect a very damaged psychotic boy and a recently orphaned girl, and together they conduct ``experiments'' in mentally and physically escaping the spacial and psychological constraints of the rigid school. They try ``escaping'' by doing everything from meditating on corporal punishment to breaking into the steam tunnels below the school. Hoeg's cool description of everyday degradation is powerfully spare and gives the impression that the author knows all too well his painful subject. In fact, this novel is so skillfully wrought that it reads like a survivor's memoir interweaved with an intriguing meditation on the meaning of time and how one views it under differing levels of positive and negative stress. While not the thriller of last year, Hoeg has delivered a page-turner of a quite different stripe. A brave, imaginative novel.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-374-11554-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1994

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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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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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