GRAY SKIES TOMORROW

Frankly autobiographical short novel about Molina's doomed youthful affair with Mexican poet JosÇ Carlos Becerra. Molina opens with brief diary entries from 10 November 1969 (``I meet JosÇ Carlos Becerra....'') through 27 May 1970, when Becerra dies in a car accident at the age of 33. The novel that follows fills in their story in greater detail while retaining the immediacy of a journal. Molina is 23, living in London with her demanding, claustrophobically protective aunt, when she meets established poet Becerra at the home of friends. By their second meeting, he is already insisting that she spend the night. A good girl from an upper-middle-class family with a strict moral code, Molina flees, but soon they are seeing each other over her aunt's objections. Molina nervously visits a clinic for birth control (``Here these things are normal, not like it is in Mexico,'' a friend reassures her; indeed when the nurse hears what she's come for, she replies, ``Oh, good for you!''). Meanwhile, Becerra continues to badger her about her middle-class morality; infatuated but insecure, uncertain what he really feels for her, Molina breaks free of her aunt and is making plans to join her lover in Italy when she gets word of his death. Unlikely to have the same reception here as in Mexico—after its 1977 publication, the novel stirred controversy and won a major literary prize—but Molina's unadorned account of the exhilaration and terror of a first passion that seems as much about independence as about love may speak to young (and/or nostalgic) women.

Pub Date: June 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-917635-14-0

Page Count: 116

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

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.

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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