A lyrical, compelling coming-of-age story with magical elements.

READ REVIEW

The Mermaids of Lake Michigan

A water-loving girl struggles to find her place on land in this novel.

Growing up in Grand Haven, Michigan, by the shores of the titular lake, Elise Faulkner is shy and withdrawn, much to the chagrin of her ex–beauty queen mother. Despite the former Miss Coast Guard’s efforts to help Elise make local friends, she prefers to stay home reading or writing to one of her international pen pals, like Fabrice Nwanko, the Ghanian schoolgirl who reveals her uncle’s encounter with a mermaid. Elise is fascinated by mermaids because of her scandalous great-grandmother Margaret Stieg, a wreck diver who claimed her life was saved by one when her oxygen was cut off during an underwater mission to retrieve a sunken diamond ring. Elise’s quiet, dreamy life changes when her mother introduces her to world-traveling, cigarette-smoking Chiara. As the two girls become fast friends, bonding over vintage fashion and playing hooky at the beach, Elise discovers she’s inherited some of Margaret’s daring after all—especially after meeting Miguel Ballesteros, a Roma carnival worker and flamenco guitarist who tells her, “I’m your destiny.” Will their romance lure her away from the lake—and the people—she loves? And will the darkness of Miguel’s future sweep Elise under with it? While Elise remains a fairly passive character throughout the narrative, Kamata (The Beautiful One Has Come, 2015, etc.) pulls off the difficult trick of writing a book that’s thoughtful and slow-paced without overexplaining or making the story plodding. Her writing is clear and confident, with an eye for vivid details—“dormer windows like lidded eyes” or “one round little pea...like a jewel.” She unfortunately uses the term “Gypsy” in place of “Roma” more than once, and Miguel’s air of mystery may read as stereotypical. But readers carried along by Elise’s tale will find themselves wanting more.

A lyrical, compelling coming-of-age story with magical elements.

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-942545-59-0

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more