An uneven but at times engaging war resistance tale that grapples with some of the moral complexities of the Vietnam era.


A group of callow but well-intentioned 1960s college students opposes the Vietnam War in this coming-of-age novel.

The grandson of a Colorado labor activist and a sometime college student, Tom Hill works construction jobs as a roofer. It is 1966 and the Vietnam War is heating up, but Tom, for the moment, seems more interested in his job site rivalry with a slow old-timer named Dennis whom he can run circles around. Dennis retaliates by firing a nail through part of Tom’s hand with his nail gun. Not only does Tom have to deal with his injury, but he has to confront his precarious student deferment status as well. The tale becomes intriguing when Bradbury (Kid Golly Speaks, 2018, etc.) focuses on Tom’s relationship with his student buddies, members of the steering committee for Peace Action Now, who are forever posturing and leafleting the university in their fictional Colorado campus town that somewhat resembles Boulder and Fort Collins. Tom has eyes for winsome committee member Sandra, the daughter of his mentor and adviser, the avuncular Professor Ellsworth Boyce, an expert in Colorado labor history and ardent supporter of the anti-war movement. The author effectively ratchets up the action as Tom deals with his draft board and the heavy consequences of his opposition to the war when the police attack him at a local rally. Bradbury deftly captures the taut confusion that takes place when Tom has to take his draft physical. Throughout, the author’s dialogue and prose prove crisp and sometimes succinct. “He would graduate winter quarter, 1968, the prime rate willing,” Bradbury writes of Tom. But often the book bogs down, mostly due to the lack of a strong editor (“Go the hell, Dennis”; “He decided he to get one at the post office”; “Still, their leader, Pete, upheld up the tradition willingly”).

An uneven but at times engaging war resistance tale that grapples with some of the moral complexities of the Vietnam era.

Pub Date: May 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4787-7048-0

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Outskirts Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2019

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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