An ambitious novel that may appeal most to adult readers looking back on their high-school experiences.

READ REVIEW

Motor City Boys

A coming-of-age novel about five high school friends’ junior year in gritty 1950s Detroit.

Debut novelist Wlodkowski doesn’t tell the boys’ story chronologically but in vignettes arranged around themes such as “Romance” and “Fear and Courage.” The first introduces the five boys and how they got their nicknames: Lightning, Horsehair, Third Grade, the Bush and Flyer. (Flyer is the narrator, but, oddly, readers learn the least about him.) Each chapter starts with Flyer looking back, addressing the reader from an unspecified future time. Teenage readers may relate to some of the dialogue: “We weren’t supposed to fall in love, at least not like adults do….Just a fling…not something that could bury us or warp us for the rest of our lives. Well, that was royal BS.” The opening of the chapter “Oblong Ball”, however, may put off readers who don’t like sports: “Like the American old west, football offers young men one of the few frontiers in which primitive rituals can be undertaken to test one’s courage.” Throughout, the five teens experience team sports, disagreements with each other, drunkenness, turf wars and sex with girls. Horsehair’s mother dies, and the Bush struggles with a potential stepfather. Wlodkowski’s dialogue is often believable but sometimes a bit stilted, as when the profanity-prone Lightning says, “I think the time has come for some action between me and Barbara Bayer….she’s looking even better this year than last.” Although some plot threads progress from chapter to chapter, the thematic organization of the novel weakens the overall story arc. That said, the novel does effectively illustrate Flyer’s final observation that “friends stay with us and continue to create us beyond any moment or place in time.”

An ambitious novel that may appeal most to adult readers looking back on their high-school experiences.

Pub Date: April 11, 2013

ISBN: 978-1481131230

Page Count: 166

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2013

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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