A relatable female protagonist and a meaningful message about the relationship between hurt and anger.


A grade schooler’s determination to tame a fearful, aggressive pup with love brings both trouble and unexpected change in this children’s novel.

Everything has gone wrong for Samantha “Sammy” Connor since the death of her beloved grandfather Papa Jack. She and her single mom had to move after he died; money is short; and Sammy is messing up at her elementary school. The girl also feels distanced from her mom, an artist who spends a lot of time in her ceramics studio. When Sammy sees chained-up pup Jack being cruelly mistreated by school bully Brian Haydon’s teenage brothers, she persuades her classmate to sell Jack to her, earning the money by reading to an elderly woman at the local seniors’ home. Sammy soon wonders, though, if kindness will be enough to change the barking, lunging, destructive “devil dog” into a loving pet. She comes to see a parallel in Brian’s anger when she witnesses him being denigrated and physically abused by his bad news brothers—and comes up with a plan to rescue him too. But “why was it that when she tried so hard, things kept going wrong?” Jack chews things up, won’t listen, and nips at people. Brian comes to school with bruises and keeps shoving kids and mouthing off to teachers. Then a shockingly violent incident occurs, bringing eventful consequences for Jack, renewed closeness between Sammy and her mom, and the girl’s sad realization that she can’t be Brian’s rescuer. As her mom says, “people have to fix themselves.” In this novel, Brown (Not Yet Summer, 2017, etc.), a prolific author of books for ages 9 and up, offers an affecting portrait of a young girl struggling to recover a sense of stability after a profound loss. Sammy’s ups and downs with her mom, who is caring but self-absorbed with professional and money concerns, ring true. And principal Jeanne Martinez and counselor Mrs. Sovich are sympathetic adults. The story also presents a powerful lesson about the effects of bullying. The ethnicity and race of the characters are not stated, although the book cover shows a young white girl and there is a mention of Sammy’s best friend’s Japanese grandparents.

A relatable female protagonist and a meaningful message about the relationship between hurt and anger.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5447-9935-3

Page Count: 286

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...


Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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