A pair of tales that will entertain, transport, and move readers.


Two novellas introduce two protagonists yielding to long-stymied grief.

In Shoplifting, a writer named Monica Evans assumes the role of stay-at-home mother to a toddler in the sticks of Northern California. The angst of this identity shift moves Monica to more deeply process life events formerly consigned to “emotional shorthand”—namely her choice to drop out of an MFA program; the memoir she started writing then abruptly stopped; and the death of her sister, a prospective lawyer who was a troublemaker with a knack for shoplifting in a past life. This reflecting, as well as several rattling visitations from a specter, eventually causes Monica to resume her memoir by way of writing a piece on shoplifting. In doing so, she finds herself adopting a penchant for the habit that heals her in surprising ways. In Infidels, an adult named Jackie Rose recalls his wintry preteen years in suburban Minnesota against the backdrop of 1970s postwar anxiety. Jackie is the son of an alcoholic father who is a Vietnam veteran-turned-kitchenware-salesman. Jackie’s mother is a homemaker who—much to her husband’s chagrin—is pursuing a college education. Jackie himself is more like his mother in that he is bookish and prefers to spend time in the library reading and worrying about Russian warfare over training for the hockey and baseball tryouts his father insists he attend. Amid increasing tension between his parents, Jackie disappears into the formidable task that is leaving boyhood behind in “Me Decade” Middle America. In these enjoyable and touching stories, Davidson’s (Spectators, 2017, etc.) prose is meticulous in conjuring the precise atmospherics of time and place. His nostalgia for a bygone era in Infidels is particularly vivid (“I knew where he’d lifted that look. It was Danny Zuko in Grease. We’d seen the movie three times last summer, drooling over Olivia Newton John in those skin-tight leather pants”). The author also demonstrates impressive stylistic dynamism; his writing can be both funny and adept at rendering painful emotional intricacies. That said, Davidson doesn’t extend this care to other elements of his writing. Some side characters lack dimension. Recurring symbols make appearances that read like afterthoughts. And dialogue occasionally veers toward the trite.

A pair of tales that will entertain, transport, and move readers. 

Pub Date: July 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-944355-46-3

Page Count: 177

Publisher: Five Oaks Press

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 19

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize

  • National Book Award Finalist


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

Did you like this book?

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.


From the Briar U series

In this opener to Kennedy’s (Hot & Bothered, 2017, etc.) Briar U romance series, two likable students keep getting their signals crossed.

Twenty-one-year-old Summer Heyward-Di Laurentis is expelled from Brown University in the middle of her junior year because she was responsible for a fire at the Kappa Beta Nu sorority house. Fortunately, her father has connections, so she’s now enrolled in Briar University, a prestigious institution about an hour outside Boston. But as she’s about to move into Briar’s Kappa Beta Nu house, she’s asked to leave by the sisters, who don’t want her besmirching their reputation. Her older brother Dean, who’s a former Briar hockey star, comes to her rescue; his buddies, who are still on the hockey team, need a fourth roommate for their townhouse. Three good-looking hockey jocks and a very rich, gorgeous fashion major under the same roof—what could go wrong? Summer becomes quickly infatuated with one of her housemates: Dean’s best friend Colin “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. There’s a definite spark between them, and they exchange smoldering looks, but the tattooed Fitzy, who’s also a video game reviewer and designer, is an introvert who prefers no “drama” in his life. Summer, however, is a charming extrovert, although she has an inferiority complex about her flagging scholastic acumen. As the story goes on, the pair seem to misinterpret each other’s every move. Meanwhile, another roommate and potential suitor, Hunter Davenport, is waiting in the wings. Kennedy’s novel is full of sex, alcohol, and college-level profanity, but it never becomes formulaic. The author adroitly employs snappy dialogue, steady pacing, and humor, as in a scene at a runway fashion show featuring Briar jocks parading in Summer-designed swimwear. The book also manages to touch on some serious subjects, including learning disabilities and abusive behavior by faculty members. Summer and Fitzy’s repeated stumbles propel the plot through engaging twists and turns; the characters trade off narrating the story, which gives each of them a chance to reveal some substance.

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.    

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72482-199-7

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Did you like this book?