A lovable lead character and the hint of mystery make this trip down Memory Lane pleasurable enough to leave readers...



In the first young-adult novel in a projected series, Lopez documents the life and loves of Hermie Brambleweed, a teenager dealing with typical high school drama—and some big secrets.

In this slightly dated coming-of-age story, Lopez introduces the world to Hermie. He’s an amazingly self-sufficient kid who proves to be a classic teenage boy in many respects: He hates his job, spends most of his time hanging out with friends, gets drunk on the sly and sneaks into his girlfriend Jane’s room as often as possible. But Hermie is keeping secrets. His father is dead, his mother is missing, and Hermie lives alone in a big house with a large trust fund administered by his grandparents. He is also guarding a cache of documents hidden in the basement by his meticulous father—files that could land a large chemical company in big trouble. Despite these secrets and the potential pitfalls of autonomy, Hermie flies under the radar by maintaining a job, studying hard, keeping house and living responsibly. As the story moves chronologically through Hermie’s sophomore and junior years, Lopez keeps the focus on Hermie’s passions (bowling and Jane) while entertaining readers with the antics of Hermie and his friends. There’s potential for great tension in Hermie’s story, but Lopez, alluding to the threat of discovery and danger, misses the opportunity to build suspense by focusing on Hermie’s daily routine rather than his tantalizing secrets. Although the cast of characters is strong, the dialogue feels forced at times, possibly the result of a confused timeline. Lopez doesn’t set the narrative in a specific year, but terms such as “cats” and “chicks” call to mind a bygone era, and he peppers the dialogue with references to cassette tapes and answering machines rather than iPods and cellphones. However, issues relating to sex and drugs remain relevant to modern teenagers, and Lopez addresses them in a tactful, realistic fashion.

A lovable lead character and the hint of mystery make this trip down Memory Lane pleasurable enough to leave readers anticipating the next chapter.

Pub Date: March 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1466406520

Page Count: 242

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


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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