Despite some drawbacks, an insightful story that will appeal to readers nostalgic for the 1970s.

DAISY JONES & THE SIX

What ever happened to Daisy Jones and The Six, the iconic 1970s rock band that topped the charts and sold out stadiums? It’s always been a mystery why the musicians suddenly disbanded.

Reid (The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, 2017, etc.) takes an unusual approach to dissecting the breakup of the fictional rock band by offering a narrative composed solely of transcribed interviews. At the center of the documentary-style novel is the relationship between lead singer Billy Dunne, recovering addict and aspiring family man, and sexy bad girl Daisy Jones, whose soulful voice and complex lyrics turn out to have been the missing ingredient The Six needed. When Daisy joins the band, the group catapults to fame, but not without cost. She refuses to simply fall in line and let Billy make the artistic decisions. In doing this, not only does she infuriate the band leader, she also sets an example for other members who are only too happy to start voicing their own demands. Over time the tension between Billy and Daisy grows increasingly more complicated, threatening to take its toll on Billy’s home life. He is fiercely loyal to his wife, Camila, while also being fully cognizant of his weaknesses—a torturous combination for Billy. Other band members have their own embroilments, and Daisy’s bestie, disco diva Simone Jackson, enhances the cast, but the crux of the story is about how the addition of Daisy to The Six forever changes the chemistry of the band, for better and worse. There is great buildup around answering the big question of what happened at their final concert together, though the revelation is a letdown. Further, the documentary-style writing detracts from the storytelling; it often feels gimmicky, as though the author is trying too hard for a fresh and clever approach. This is a shame because her past novels, traditionally told, have been far more engaging.

Despite some drawbacks, an insightful story that will appeal to readers nostalgic for the 1970s.

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9862-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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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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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

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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A nervy modern-day rebellion tale that isn’t afraid to get dark or find humor in the darkness.

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MY YEAR OF REST AND RELAXATION

A young New York woman figures there’s nothing wrong with existence that a fistful of prescriptions and months of napping wouldn’t fix.

Moshfegh’s prickly fourth book (Homesick for Another World, 2017, etc.) is narrated by an unnamed woman who’s decided to spend a year “hibernating.” She has a few conventional grief issues. (Her parents are both dead, and they’re much on her mind.) And if she’s not mentally ill, she’s certainly severely maladjusted socially. (She quits her job at an art gallery in obnoxious, scatological fashion.) But Moshfegh isn’t interested in grief or mental illness per se. Instead, she means to explore whether there are paths to living that don’t involve traditional (and wearying) habits of consumption, production, and relationships. To highlight that point, most of the people in the narrator's life are offbeat or provisional figures: Reva, her well-meaning but shallow former classmate; Trevor, a boyfriend who only pursues her when he’s on the rebound; and Dr. Tuttle, a wildly incompetent doctor who freely gives random pill samples and presses one drug, Infermiterol, that produces three-day blackouts. None of which is the stuff of comedy. But Moshfegh has a keen sense of everyday absurdities, a deadpan delivery, and such a well-honed sense of irony that the narrator’s predicament never feels tragic; this may be the finest existential novel not written by a French author. (Recovering from one blackout, the narrator thinks, “What had I done? Spent a spa day then gone out clubbing?...Had Reva convinced me to go ‘enjoy myself’ or something just as idiotic?”) Checking out of society the way the narrator does isn’t advisable, but there’s still a peculiar kind of uplift to the story in how it urges second-guessing the nature of our attachments while revealing how hard it is to break them.

A nervy modern-day rebellion tale that isn’t afraid to get dark or find humor in the darkness.

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52211-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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