Solar-Tuttle's fledgling effort has a beginning, middle, and end—but otherwise bears little resemblance to a real novel.


Youth-directed imprint’s latest installment: a cringe-inducing first novel tracking a heavy-partying University of Pennsylvania sophomore who undergoes “buzz kill” with existential repercussions while watching Number 6 fumble the football during a Penn-Cornell game.

Rebecca “Beck” Lowe is supposed to be “the one who makes the plans,” the multi-shot drinker at all-night frat bars who can then churn out a paper for her morning class, the full-of-fun entertainer and reluctant virgin who quotes from Jay McInerney's Story of My Life. According to Beck, however, she's also a vulnerable only child harboring deep-seated wounds concerning her working parents' tough-love inattention to her quirkiness. Doesn't her mother owe her an apology for criticizing the paper she wrote comparing Walt Whitman's poetry and Jesse Jackson's speeches, especially since it gained her an A-plus? The problem is, Beck's not sure who she is or is supposed to be, and climbing drunkenly into eager guys' dorm beds every night while waiting for the “one good one” doesn't help her. Will it be Ryan, the tall, well-meaning freshman who lied about his age and never calls? Or totally nice Trey, or solicitous, always-faithful Scott, or one of their helpful best friends? When Beck sees Number 6 fumble at the big game, she feels the magnitude of other people's expectations and the irksome weight of having to “sit down and think about things.” “I'm like this cliché fall-apart girl crying under the vines,” reads a typical breast-beating passage of this adolescent diary. Unfortunately, the author's slangy, pedestrian prose can't compel a reader to care one way or the other about her character's growing pangs.

Solar-Tuttle's fledgling effort has a beginning, middle, and end—but otherwise bears little resemblance to a real novel.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7434-2851-X

Page Count: 224

Publisher: MTV/Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2001

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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