An overly didactic tone and patronizing passages hinder this humans-vs.-nature story.



This fictional tale follows a pack of endangered gray wolves fighting for survival as a journalist fights for their protection.

Still reeling from his wife’s tragic death, Chicago-based journalist Jeffrey Reese has temporarily relocated to Montana to report on a subject close to his heart: endangered gray wolves. According to the furious farmers and ranchers in the area, the wolves are dangerous, killing livestock and threatening livelihoods. But Reese knows the intelligent, loyal wolves have more to fear from humans. Reese soon finds his torn heartstrings mending thanks to the beautiful Elizabeth English, who loves the animals despite her rancher father’s aggressive anti-wolf stance. As Reese studies the wolves, even briefly tending to an injured one, the story shifts between his experiences and the saga of a nearby wolf pack: brave leader, Bartok; his devoted brother Lakota; alpha female, Dyami; her precocious son, Yuma; and others. In his debut work, which at times is noticeably similar to Nicholas Evans’ The Loop (1998), Cera’s respect and empathy for his lupine subjects shines through on every page, and his descriptions of nature sparkle. However, the author dictates too clearly who the heroes and villains are, rendering the story more preachy than passionate. The wolf characters are repeatedly described as noble, fascinating creatures, while the humans are either gallant and bland—particularly Reese and Elizabeth, whose conversations and even thoughts revolve primarily around wolves—or monstrously cartoonish men who “thrived on the defenseless, fattening on the flesh of the helpless.” The book also displays an uncomfortably patronizing attitude toward Native Americans with the character of Jacy Cayuse, a 16-year-old Nez Perce boy who borders on being a cultural caricature: “[Reese] knew what every Native American would feel if he could behold what Jacy was seeing. The wolf and the Indian shared similar fates in their histories, Reese thought—both shamefully held in low esteem.” Devout naturalists with a passion for wolves may embrace the book’s larger message, but many readers might find the heavy-handed tone and static characters tedious.

An overly didactic tone and patronizing passages hinder this humans-vs.-nature story.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2011

ISBN: 978-0984825004

Page Count: 276

Publisher: Libra Books, Incorporated

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2014

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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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