Simple but sharp and perfectly timed for a summer road trip.


A young woman’s cross-country drive home takes a three-month detour to a small Kansas town.

Thea planned to spend the summer after her college graduation housesitting for her parents and making decisions about her future. After learning her parents have abruptly sold her childhood home, Thea has no clear future plans except to drive her best friend Emily’s car from California to New York, where Emily’s brother Eddie lives, while Emily works overseas for a year. Thea’s been casually involved with Eddie, which the two have kept secret from Emily. When Eddie, during a phone call, suggests marriage, however, Thea realizes that not only has he misconstrued their relationship, but that it could also cost her Emily’s friendship. Thea's drive takes her to Kansas to visit her aunt Wendy, who suggests she stay for the summer, a decision that's easy to make after she meets Jimmy, a local college instructor. Thea moves in with Jimmy almost immediately, and even as she tries to hide from her own life, she is drawn deeper into Jimmy’s circle of friends and the secrets of the small town. Set in 1983, this is an appealing coming-of-age story anchored by a crisp narrative voice and a strong sense of place. Thea is a richly drawn character: she has flashes of self-awareness but primarily acts impulsively, and yet her assessments of the people around her are strikingly insightful. As such, while the story itself may have a sense of inevitability (given she cannot hide from her parents, Eddie, and Emily forever), Thea gives it life and momentum. Even as Thea questions the relationship between love and home, Rodgers (Ex-Boyfriend on Aisle 6, 2012, etc.) avoids platitudes and easy endings, and this story shines all the brighter against that which is not said.

Simple but sharp and perfectly timed for a summer road trip.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-87580-768-3

Page Count: 180

Publisher: Switchgrass Books

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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