A gentler view of Jesus that receptive readers will find intriguing.

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BELOVED SON

THE UNTOLD STORY OF JESUS CHRIST

A novel about an imagined life of Jesus Christ from debut author Rainbow.

After Judas Iscariot has a dream involving an “image of a gaunt, tunic-clad man with a light beard,” it’s not long before he comes across Jesus of Nazareth. Though there are many in Jerusalem proclaiming miracles, Judas inherently knows only one of them can be the man he’s looking for. Likewise, emerging from the desert, Jesus has had his own dream of meeting a man of Judas’ description. Inviting Jesus to his home so that he may bathe, it’s soon obvious to Judas that he’s not dealing with any simple desert wanderer. After healing a wound inflicted upon Judas by an angry Roman, Jesus explains, “my Father bade me to go forth in this body as His Son, to offer forgiveness for mankind’s sins.” And go forth he does. Gaining followers amongst Judas’ initially skeptical friends Peter and Matthew, Jesus makes statements such as, “I have come not only to heal, but also to teach God’s truth and spread God’s love so that people can learn how to keep from wounding themselves and instead, prosper and co-create with God’s will.” Gaining enemies along with friends, Jesus’ mission continues with aspects found in the Bible as well as many that are not. This novel’s version of Jesus is not only more humanized than most (he’s very capable of feeling lust), it’s also less cryptic (as in his explanation of a person’s soullike “essence”: “One’s Essence can never be destroyed and exists before one’s birth and after the death of one’s physical body”). Notable for its treatment of Judas as far from the greedy betrayer so often portrayed, the story offers a novel, more personal view of the disciples and their master. Although the traditional bad guys, such as Pontius Pilate and Herod, are painted with broad strokes, the book on a whole creates a sympathetic Jesus with whom one might want to converse, even if some of the savior’s statements veer toward the stilted, as in his explanation of why he likes Mary Magdalene: “it’s her sense of childlike comfort that gives me a feeling of being more settled within as chaos percolates all around me.”

A gentler view of Jesus that receptive readers will find intriguing.

Pub Date: June 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5115-7296-5

Page Count: 504

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Review Posted Online: Aug. 24, 2015

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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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THE VANISHING HALF

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.

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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