This diverting read probably won’t change anyone’s life, but then again, books never do. Or do they?


A Silicon Valley woman’s life is unexpectedly turned around by her love of books in this debut novel.

“Books don’t change people’s lives, not like everyone thinks they do,” Maggie Duprés states at the beginning of this book. In a way, she protests too much. Maggie got her master’s in library science in South Carolina before high-tailing it to Silicon Valley with her best friend, Dizzy. Back home, Maggie’s bookishness and Dizzy’s homosexuality marked them as outsiders, but in Silicon Valley, they find success in the tech world, flying high until Maggie’s job is outsourced to India. Hurt and unemployed, she turns to her guilty pleasure, romance novels, which she reads at Dragonfly Used Books alongside Hugo, her landlord and the Dragonfly’s owner. When Dizzy invites Maggie to a book club of high-profile businesswomen, the meeting and the book—Lady Chatterly’s Lovermark a turning point. To impress Avi Narayan, the book club’s founder, Maggie revamps the Dragonfly’s sleepy sales model, infusing it with good business sense, good book sense and a boost from her copy of Lady Chatterly: love notes written between two unknown people in the margins. Maggie scans and posts the notes on social media, they go viral, and their mystery and passion begin to haunt Maggie. As the business takes off and a sultry love interest grabs her attention, Maggie must grapple with where she belongs. King packs many more twists and turns into this breezy novel, and Maggie’s guardedness and flippancy make an enjoyable counterpoint to the unabashed community of misfits she discovers at the Dragonfly.

This diverting read probably won’t change anyone’s life, but then again, books never do. Or do they?

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4555-4679-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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

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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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More about grief and tragedy than romance.


Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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