A heroic tale of a man’s journey to success despite the challenges of his time.

THE ALABAMA REBEL

A NOVEL OF COURAGE AMID CONFLICT

A historical novel that portrays the tensions that surrounded the Civil War in the South.

Historian Roe (The Gaelic Letters, 2010, etc) delivers yet another sweeping tale of war-torn lands and coming-of-age. River Hunter, the son of a Cherokee mother and Scotch-Irish father, is a 16-year-old boy with a fourth-grade education. He moves with his family to Alabama to escape the ordered removal of Native Americans during the Civil War. River grew up without his father, who disappeared in the Carolina mountains, and he’s stuck with an abusive, alcoholic stepfather. In order to provide for his family, River turns to nature and hunts only what he needs, determined to pay nature the same respect it shows him. Nature responds in kind—the animals that River needs to feed his family gather around him, making the hunt swift and fruitful. As he pursues higher education, River continues to dress in his traditional Native garb, wearing deer skins despite his joining a society of strangers. The young man has to confront the reality of the times: Many people are suspicious of his Native American background, and they make no effort to hide it. Soon enough, however, River wins them over with his honesty and strength of character. Unfortunately, he isn’t successful in charming the family of his first love, Sarah, who, because of her family’s disapproval, marries another. River studies at the university, where he makes friends with the unlikeliest of people and advances farther than anyone predicted. The Civil War soon disrupts his academics. River and his friends join the Confederate Army, where the higher-ups notice River’s bravery and promote him through the ranks until he makes captain. A heartwarming tale of courage and triumph, this well-written, lyrical story ties together the physical war of the time and the wars within ourselves. River’s achievements, brought about through determination and hard work, inspire and captivate. Through his integrity, he appeals to everyone around him, as well as to the reader. This love story stands out for its historic richness and memorable protagonist.

A heroic tale of a man’s journey to success despite the challenges of his time. 

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1935991816

Page Count: 286

Publisher: Signalman Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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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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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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