A stirring reminder of the horrors of war and a distinctive take on the timelessness of love.

WE'VE COME TO TAKE YOU HOME

Two teenage girls from different centuries become strangely connected through personal tragedy and the events of World War I in this debut novel.

Sam Foster is a British teenager with a long-lived set of imaginary friends. At the age of 2, Sam appeared on top of a tall stool, waving at the lightning outside the window. Spooked that these people her child saw might really be the undead, Sam’s mother ordered her husband to move the family to a new house, one in which no one had yet died. At 15, Sam still sees people and visits places that others do not. Her airline pilot father is involved in a devastating car crash, and Sam now sits at his hospital bedside while wrestling with the meaning of the visions she experiences. A second narrative, set during World War I, focuses on Jessica Brown, 15, whose father has been killed in the war. After her younger brother dies of starvation, her penniless mother sends Jessica to work as a maid in London. There, in the opulent home of Maj. Osborne, Jessica works only for room and board, and this unpaid position becomes so demanding, it leaves her hands bleeding. The major’s two oldest sons have died in the war, but the youngest one, Tom, is home on leave. Jessica and Tom are drawn to each other, and it seems as if this unlikely coupling may be a permanent one. Just as Tom prepares to head back to France, facing slim chances of survival, Sam, in the present day, engineers a desperate, supernatural attempt to save her father’s life. Gandar’s work certainly gets off to an intriguing, though slightly confusing, start. Some of Sam’s early visions and travels can be a bit mystifying. Jessica’s wartime story, though, is a convincing, heartbreaking tale that becomes almost compulsively readable after she moves to London. Details about England’s food shortages, the maid’s household responsibilities, and the whims of the wealthy while the poor suffer add potency to an already engrossing account. As Sam’s story collides with the past, the novel slowly becomes whole, leading to an eloquent and moving ending.

A stirring reminder of the horrors of war and a distinctive take on the timelessness of love.

Pub Date: March 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-78589-040-6

Page Count: 217

Publisher: Matador

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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

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A LITTLE LIFE

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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