Flawed, but a solid start for a new novelist.

AMERICAN YOUTH

An accidental shooting transforms a New England town and the lives of three boys.

Change comes fast for 14-year-old Teddy LeClare when his .22 rifle discharges in his parents’ living room. A new friend who lives in one of the fancy developments in town urged Teddy to load the gun, something he’s always known not to do. Before the cops arrive, his mother makes him swear that he will lie about what happened to anyone who asks: the police, nosy kids, even his father. Teddy finds himself a pariah among his freshman class of 600 students, for although he’s too young to have his name listed as a suspect in the local paper, their New Hampshire town is small enough that word travels fast. Teddy doesn’t care. This limbo he’s living in until the fingerprint and gunshot residue tests come back (a friendly patrolman tells him it’s not like on TV—the results could take a couple months) suits him just fine. The only thing he can feel is the super-heated top of his Bic lighter pressed tight against his skin. Unknown to Teddy, though, he has become a local hero to a self-styled America First group of teenagers, who rage against gun control and other “Federalist” restrictions. He doesn’t know what to make of them or their anti-drugs, anti-sex-before-marriage, anti-land-development credos that also seem to include opportunistic shoplifting and acts of vandalism against the rich and mighty. When they turn their pent-up aggression on the other boy under suspicion for the shooting, Teddy finds the complications of his young life suddenly compounded. Debut novelist LaMarche writes compellingly about small-town mores, and the pacing is brisk as Teddy’s life spins out of control. But the author refers to Teddy throughout as “the boy,” a narrative conceit that keeps not only the character Teddy, but also the reader, at a distance.

Flawed, but a solid start for a new novelist.

Pub Date: April 17, 2007

ISBN: 1-4000-6605-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2006

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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