What She Saw

An inspiring adventure with a strong heroine.

In Conner’s first novel, a young woman starts seeing visions, changing her world forever.

Aliyah’s existence is a peaceful one. In her junior year of high school in a quiet town, she’s supported by a loving single mother, good friends, and a church community. Only one thing disturbs her: her dreams. They seem so real that they’re nearly visions, and she doesn’t understand what they mean. With the help of Pastor Mike, her church’s leader, and his foster son, Jesse, Aliyah begins to come to terms with her gift. It takes a great tragedy for her to meet Jesus and truly understand her special purpose on Earth, though the grief she feels in the aftermath threatens to overwhelm her trust in the divine plan. She’s pulled back into using her gift in the service of a friend, after which a series of dramatic events unfolds. Pastor Mike and Jesse also work in the service of God in special ways, as Aliyah learns, and she begins to refine her understanding of her gifts in their company. “You will have to choose to see the light,” Pastor Mike tells her when she’s in the grip of horrible dreams. “God has already chosen you, but you have to do your part to follow His light. Just remember that His light is more powerful than the dark; always. You don’t ever have to be afraid.” Though many influential men are present in Aliyah’s life, she is an effective and positive force in the world. Her blossoming romance with Jesse is cut short by his graduation, when they decide they both need to see what God wants them to be before they proceed, leaving Aliyah refreshingly undefined by romance. Conner’s novel is ideal for teenagers who, preferring their reading both religious and exciting, are ready for discussions about the light and dark at play in all our lives.

An inspiring adventure with a strong heroine.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4908-5190-7

Page Count: 290

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2015

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A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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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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