A beautifully written and psychologically intelligent thriller.

IMAGINING MOLLY

In this novel, a mother desperately tries to find her abducted child—while receiving telepathic messages.

Claire Shore’s 6-year-old daughter, Molly, has been tormented by the same nightmare for weeks, accompanied by stomachaches, apparently the result of stress. Claire worries that this is something more than a fleeting bout of youthful anxiety, and her own mother recommends she seek the help of a professional therapist. Claire takes Molly shopping for a new outfit to wear to a friend’s birthday party and then suddenly realizes Molly’s vanished and is overcome by a wave of panic. Unable to find her, she calls her husband, Artie, and the police, and a frantic search begins. Claire remembers that an unfamiliar woman brashly intruded into her conversation with Molly, and she turns out to be a prostitute from Texas and the prime suspect. Meanwhile, Molly is whisked away by her captors, renamed Daisy, brutally beaten and mistreated, the victim of an organized kidnapping racket. Claire believes her daughter is sending her telepathic messages, and she reveals that her own sister, Faye, also experienced nightmares as a child that were better understood as visions. As the days and then weeks and months go by, the prospects for rescuing Molly seem increasingly bleak, and only a psychic who claims to have dreams about the child still believes she remains alive. The book shifts back and forth between two parallel stories—the desperate search for Molly spearheaded by her parents and the girl’s own fearful trials. Gale (Goddess Gilda, 2013) artfully conjures taut suspense, keeping the plot moving at a brisk pace without projecting the ultimate outcome of the tale. Some of the details of Molly’s ordeal are unsettlingly grim, but the author doesn’t pummel her readers with macabre violence, though some sections are, nonetheless, challenging to bear. Claire’s marriage begins to suffer early on, and her guilt over Molly’s disappearance is pulverizing, a subplot developed with impressive sensitivity by Gale. In prose that sometimes approaches poetic elegance, she captures the deep connection between Molly and her mother and Claire’s refusal, despite spiritual depletion, to relax the vigil for her missing child: “I climbed into bed suddenly exhausted. I crept back into the bathroom and soaked a washcloth under cold water. I rung [sic] it out, folded it in thirds, crawled back in bed and pressed the cold cloth to my forehead. I listened for my daughter.” Gale also skillfully delves into the mind of one of Molly’s captors, a morally misguided woman but not an evil one, looking, however perversely, for a family of her own. The heart of the story, though, is Molly, who memorably perseveres despite her understandable terror and the degradation she weathers. The author uses the child’s telepathy as a sign of her emotional acuteness and the basis of her deep attunement with her mother. Gale has a talent for depicting compassion that survives even the darkest trauma, and Molly’s own resilience is the finest example of that knack. 

A beautifully written and psychologically intelligent thriller. 

Pub Date: May 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5449-8284-7

Page Count: 356

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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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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