A wonderfully written book about growing up.

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NOT FADE AWAY

Fifteen-year-old Andy Lerner, whose knowledge of 1950s popular culture knows no bounds, gets lessons in Algebra, family history, love and exercise during the tumultuous summer before high school.

Andy has a few problems. He failed ninth-grade algebra and now faces a summer of tutoring and classes. He is evicted from his bedroom when his Grandma Celia dies suddenly and his great-grandfather, Grandpa Simon, comes to live with him, his brother Marty–who he has to share a room with–and his mother. Three bullies give him a mortifying beating and, oh yes, he’s in love with Marty’s girlfriend. Life is hard, but Andy is a smart kid with a big heart, and as his elderly math tutor explains, all problems have solutions. Gordon displays considerable wit along with charged emotional drama, mostly through his adroit use of dialogue. Characters spar, snap, warn, declare love, declare war and make peace with entertaining precision. Readers will be familiar with this plot–boy comes of age and discovers inner strength. However, the author keeps this tale fresh and smart by centering it on the inexhaustible Andy, who readers will want to both cuff on the head and feed a satisfying meal. A few of the characters fade too much into the background, such as Andy’s mother and even Marty, to a lesser extent. Their absences during most of the summer are inexplicable in the face of Andy’s quest to discover his father’s story. But a few of Andy’s other relationships are stellar examples of perfect literary pitch. For example, Andy and the Lerners’ black servant, Hattie Mae, share familiar intimacy and the quiet awkwardness that starts when boys begin to turn into men. Gordon carefully balances each aspect against each other in a stunning portrait of a rapidly evolving relationship.

A wonderfully written book about growing up.

Pub Date: March 31, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4415-0409-8

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2010

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

ALMOST JUST FRIENDS

Piper Manning is determined to sell her family’s property so she can leave her hometown behind, but when her siblings come back with life-changing secrets and her sexy neighbor begins to feel like “The One,” she might have to redo her to-do list.

As children, Piper and her younger siblings, Gavin and Winnie, were sent to live with their grandparents in Wildstone, California, from the Congo after one of Gavin’s friends was killed. Their parents were supposed to meet them later but never made it. Piper wound up being more of a parent than her grandparents, though: “In the end, Piper had done all the raising. It’d taken forever, but now, finally, her brother and sister were off living their own lives.” Piper, the queen of the bullet journal, plans to fix up the family’s lakeside property her grandparents left the three siblings when they died. Selling it will enable her to study to be a physician’s assistant as she’s always wanted. However, just as the goal seems in sight, Gavin and Winnie come home, ostensibly for Piper’s 30th birthday, and then never leave. Turns out, Piper’s brother and sister have recently managed to get into a couple buckets of trouble, and they need some time to reevaluate their options. They aren’t willing to share their problems with Piper, though they’ve been completely open with each other. And Winnie, who’s pregnant, has been very open with Piper’s neighbor Emmitt Reid and his visiting son, Camden, since the baby’s father is Cam’s younger brother, Rowan, who died a few months earlier in a car accident. Everyone has issues to navigate, made more complicated by Gavin and Winnie’s swearing Cam to secrecy just as he and Piper try—and fail—to ignore their attraction to each other. Shalvis keeps the physical and emotional tension high, though the siblings’ refusal to share with Piper becomes tedious and starts to feel childish.

Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296139-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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