An often exemplary novel featuring characterizations that make the story feel real.

READ REVIEW

Much Loose Change

An Asian-Indian woman finds herself at the mercy of a hit man for a Native American drug gang in this thriller.

In the beginning of  Pass’ (Lilith: The Descendant, 2016) novel, readers meet three seemingly disparate people whose lives revolve around a Tohono O’odham reservation in Arizona: John Moon, aka Much Loose Change, a White Mountain Apache tribal lawyer still mourning the death of his wife, Sarah; Samuel Joaquin, a Native American hit man for his brother’s drug-smuggling gang who moonlights as a serial killer; and Alison Steele, the half-Lakota, half-Chinese owner of a successful business that supplies cigarette girls to casinos on reservations across the country. When Charlie Benz, who manages the casino on the Tohono O’odham reservation, tries to buy her out, it sets a chain of events in motion that leads to Alison running for her life from the psychotic Samuel. She’s only saved by the timely intervention of John Moon, who bestirs himself to become her protector. Hard-bitten Alison, a born survivor, finds herself falling for John, who’s willing to come out of self-imposed emotional exile in order to be with her. But can he protect Alison from Samuel—or an even worse fate? Pass delivers an ingenious novel in which the characters have rare depth and compelling back stories. For instance, readers learn that John’s grandfather was a Navajo code writer during World War II, and that strong-willed Alison has gone through several different careers and values her independence. Even Samuel, a character who flirts with cliché, gets fresh life in the details of his Native American background. Overall, the reservation atmosphere gives this book a unique feel. Only at the end does the story falter with a double whammy climax that doesn’t feel properly set up. 

An often exemplary novel featuring characterizations that make the story feel real.

Pub Date: March 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-692-62926-0

Page Count: 266

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2016

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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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