A sometimes-disorienting but heartfelt look at the scope of a modern family’s emotions.

A Life Worth Living

Scott’s debut family drama spotlights the ebb and flow of relationships between parents, spouses, siblings, and others as they navigate the immovable forces of life.

Dave and Debbie are no strangers to the strains of time, money, and work demands on a marriage. At the novel’s outset, Dave is plagued by the long hours that are typical of modern, white-collar America, frequently forgetting the time of night—and his family—as he juggles numbers at his financial job. Debbie, stressed by her double workload of caring for their adolescent children, Aidan and Summer, and covering long night shifts as a nurse at the local hospital, begins having her doubts as to whether their relationship can hold up. After some heated discussion, Dave resolves to spend more time with his family and less time at the office. Dave, Debbie, Aidan, and Summer set off together to Debbie’s parents’ lake house for a relaxing weekend together. However, Dave, lost in thought, nearly swerves off the road at a hairpin bend. As the story progresses, each member of the brood becomes embroiled in challenging personal dramas: Summer suffers her first real heartbreak; Debbie is tempted by the adoration of a colleague; Dave continues to struggle with reconnecting with his wife; and Aidan is involved in an accident that sends shock waves beyond just his nuclear family. Although the book’s pacing smoothly follows the central characters for much of the book, Scott later introduces Dave’s vivid, uncanny dream states, which will begin to rock readers’ perceptions of what’s really happening. This uncertainty will help to keep readers engaged in the cyclical nature of Dave and Debbie’s marriage struggles. However, it’s introduced at a fairly late stage, and the story may require patience on the part of readers at some points. The key to the true meaning of Dave’s dreams will be a rewarding revelation for steadfast readers.

A sometimes-disorienting but heartfelt look at the scope of a modern family’s emotions. 

Pub Date: April 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5116-0796-4

Page Count: 360

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

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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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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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