A meandering, cross-country novel about one man’s life that too often rushes its epiphanies.



McKeever’s (The Galindez Case, 2013, etc.) crime novel dives into the overlapping worlds of the Mafia, New York City cops and the restaurant business, through the eyes of a war veteran trying to find himself.

After the Korean War, Joey Mancuso, aka “Joey Fizz,” isn’t quite sure what to do. All his friends have places to go, but he doesn’t feel drawn back to his New York City hometown. Rudderless, he visits his friend Clay, who was blinded in Korea. They take a trip to Yosemite National Park in California together, which gives Joey a little more purpose. He decides to take a circuitous route to New York and visit some friends, seeing the real America along the way. In the process, he contemplates spirituality and religion, and tries to figure out his life. McKeever continues this theme of drifting throughout the novel. When Joey makes it back to New York, he gets a job as a waiter and tries to avoid his Mafioso uncle, Vinnie, and the life of crime he promises. Later, Joey falls briefly into a job as a private investigator, which takes him to Paris, but this doesn’t last, and soon Joey is in Las Vegas, once again attempting to escape the reach of his uncle and his shady associate, Fishbone. There, Joey gets the idea to open a delicatessen back East. He thinks he’s finally found the perfect spot to start a quiet life—until he discovers that the deli is a drop point for the Mafia. Overall, readers will find McKeever’s portrayal of Joey’s life to be a colorful journey. At times, however, the novel sometimes seems too eager to provide illuminating insights, as when characters reveal their inner thoughts to complete strangers, just to make a philosophical point. For example, one woman tells Joey, “You make a bargain with your life, and sometimes you don’t get any change back when you pay the price to get in and try to live your dream.” Such moments might have been more effective if they were allowed to unfold more naturally during the course of the story.

A meandering, cross-country novel about one man’s life that too often rushes its epiphanies.

Pub Date: June 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1496915207

Page Count: 290

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2014

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A vivid sequel that strains credulity.


Fremont (After Long Silence, 1999) continues—and alters—her story of how memories of the Holocaust affected her family.

At the age of 44, the author learned that her father had disowned her, declaring her “predeceased”—or dead in his eyes—in his will. It was his final insult: Her parents had stopped speaking to her after she’d published After Long Silence, which exposed them as Jewish Holocaust survivors who had posed as Catholics in Europe and America in order to hide multilayered secrets. Here, Fremont delves further into her tortured family dynamics and shows how the rift developed. One thread centers on her life after her harrowing childhood: her education at Wellesley and Boston University, the loss of her virginity to a college boyfriend before accepting her lesbianism, her stint with the Peace Corps in Lesotho, and her decades of work as a lawyer in Boston. Another strand involves her fraught relationship with her sister, Lara, and how their difficulties relate to their father, a doctor embittered after years in the Siberian gulag; and their mother, deeply enmeshed with her own sister, Zosia, who had married an Italian count and stayed in Rome to raise a child. Fremont tells these stories with novelistic flair, ending with a surprising theory about why her parents hid their Judaism. Yet she often appears insensitive to the serious problems she says Lara once faced, including suicidal depression. “The whole point of suicide, I thought, was to succeed at it,” she writes. “My sister’s completion rate was pathetic.” Key facts also differ from those in her earlier work. After Long Silence says, for example, that the author grew up “in a small city in the Midwest” while she writes here that she grew up in “upstate New York,” changes Fremont says she made for “consistency” in the new book but that muddy its narrative waters. The discrepancies may not bother readers seeking psychological insights rather than factual accuracy, but others will wonder if this book should have been labeled a fictionalized autobiography rather than a memoir.

A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982113-60-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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Mostly conservative in its stance and choices but common-sensical and current.


Savvy counsel and starter lists for fretting parents.

New York Times Book Review editor Paul (My Life With Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues, 2017, etc.) and Russo, the children’s book editor for that publication, provide standard-issue but deftly noninvasive strategies for making books and reading integral elements in children’s lives. Some of it is easier said than done, but all is intended to promote “the natural, timeless, time-stopping joys of reading” for pleasure. Mediumwise, print reigns supreme, with mild approval for audio and video books but discouraging words about reading apps and the hazards of children becoming “slaves to the screen.” In a series of chapters keyed to stages of childhood, infancy to the teen years, the authors supplement their advice with short lists of developmentally appropriate titles—by their lights, anyway: Ellen Raskin’s Westing Game on a list for teens?—all kitted out with enticing annotations. The authors enlarge their offerings with thematic lists, from “Books That Made Us Laugh” to “Historical Fiction.” In each set, the authors go for a mix of recent and perennially popular favorites, leaving off mention of publication dates so that hoary classics like Janice May Udry’s A Tree Is Nice seem as fresh as David Wiesner’s Flotsam and Carson Ellis’ Du Iz Tak? and sidestepping controversial titles and themes in the sections for younger and middle-grade readers—with a few exceptions, such as a cautionary note that some grown-ups see “relentless overparenting” in Margaret Wise Brown’s Runaway Bunny. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series doesn’t make the cut except for a passing reference to its “troubling treatment of Indians.” The teen lists tend to be edgier, salted with the provocative likes of Art Spiegelman’s Maus and Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give, and a nod to current demands for more LGBTQ and other #ownvoices books casts at least a glance beyond the mainstream. Yaccarino leads a quartet of illustrators who supplement the occasional book cover thumbnails with vignettes and larger views of children happily absorbed in reading.

Mostly conservative in its stance and choices but common-sensical and current.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5235-0530-2

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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