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Contains too many echoes of films (from The Deer Hunter to Mean Streets to Sleepers), including particularly significant...

Boyhood friendships and dreams are reshaped by mysteries that resonate for decades in the veteran character actor’s flavorful successor to his well-received debut novel, The Memory of Running (2005).

Like that novel, this one takes the form of a journey—undertaken by middle-aged bartender and working actor Jono Riley, its narrator. When old friend Cubby D’Agostino notifies Jono of the death of his sister Marie (whom Jono had not so secretly loved when they were kids), a trip back to his old East Providence, R.I., neighborhood coincides with a flood of sometimes wistful, but often painful, memories—as well as unanswered questions. Who fired the shotgun, wounding 12-year-old Marie, who lived 40 years with a bullet in her back, until it “traveled,” finally killing her? What is the secret that made Jono’s “Portagee” buddy Bobby Fontes old before his time, and deepened the vulnerability none of his old friends had ever sensed? The book feels somewhat muddled early on, as McLarty awkwardly juggles interlocking flashbacks, but the story quickly settles into a lucid juxtaposition of past and present. There’s some charmingly funny stuff about adolescent camaraderie and mischief, and Jono’s wry, salty voice is a pleasure to listen to (even when McLarty regales us with rather too many theater-related anecdotes). Nice supporting characters, too, including Jono’s tenderhearted tough-broad girlfriend Renée, Bobby’s pathetic drunken inamorata Colleen, brutal neighborhood bully “Poochy” Ponserelli and 390-pound bouncer (and bibliophile) Randall Pound.

Contains too many echoes of films (from The Deer Hunter to Mean Streets to Sleepers), including particularly significant debts to Dennis Lehane’s Mystic River and the Clint Eastwood adaptation thereof. Still, a lively, big-hearted tale, drenched in gritty working-class ambience.

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2007

ISBN: 0-670-03474-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2006

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Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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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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