A pair of quietly disturbing tales that will surely resonate with readers.




In this debut book, two novellas focus on loners whose seemingly unremarkable lives simmer with darkness.

In Trampoline Games, 12-year-old Jake Lore and his mother move to Sandy, Utah, in the summer of 1986. His father remains in California on business while Jake adjusts to an almost exclusively Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints neighborhood. He’s immediately smitten with Debra Hanson, the girl next door who’s the same age, but even more drawn to neighbor Finn Levy. The two boys jump on the Hansons’ trampoline when the family attends Sunday morning church. But their activities become increasingly riskier and more violent: poltergeisting homes (nightly invasions to move around or take small items) or throwing lawn darts with little warning to others. In the more mysterious The Moth Orchid, Alasa Memnov raises orchids in Fairbanks, Alaska, and periodically visits her mother, Bebe, in a nursing home. That’s where research physician Dr. Rene Funes approaches Alasa. Evidently, Bebe had given Funes her daughter’s genetic material years ago, and Alasa is susceptible to the same rare form of dementia afflicting her mother. The doctor suggests Alasa return to her hometown of Lotus as a “cognitive exercise.” Though the intent is to aid her memory, the trip may instead prove too revealing for Alasa. Masters skillfully puts ordinary characters in troubling and sometimes-dire circumstances. Jake, for example, is a typical tween (he gets gum in his hair) while Finn introduces precarious elements into the boy’s life, like ingredients for a bomb. In the same vein, Alasa’s hometown excursion is nostalgic but also becomes a struggle to remember her past. Both disconcerting novellas have startling turns, including a sudden physical assault in Trampoline Games that may be the book’s most horrifying moment. Though Orchid relies heavily on a late twist, it doesn’t make its coda any less unsettling. The prose, like the stories, is somber but lyrical: “Bright, crisp stars shone like tiny holes poked in oilcloth, as if the night sky had been draped over an adjacent world made of blinding light.”

A pair of quietly disturbing tales that will surely resonate with readers.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9984146-6-9

Page Count: 116

Publisher: Radial Books

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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