A sweet, moving family tale.


A man who recently lost his wife spends two weeks with his grandson in an idyllic Michigan lakeside setting in this novel.

O’Leary (Irish Crossings: Danny’s Story, 2018, etc.) introduces readers to Emmet Hyland just before the most heartbreaking moment of his life, as cancer takes his love of 50 years, Mia. The couple’s only child, Jackie, shows up with her 13-year-old son, Colin, and Emmet barely has time to grieve when he is put in charge of the teen. Jackie and her new boyfriend are taking a vacation, and although Emmet doesn’t know his grandson very well, he feels obligated to take care of him. It’s awkward at first, as Colin keeps his head in his iPad and Emmet tries to figure out how to feed and entertain the kid. As it turns out, a little time hiking and learning to kayak on the lake is just what Colin needs to help him get over the hurt of his father leaving. And teaching Colin these things is just what Emmet requires to come to terms with Mia’s death and learn how to keep living. O’Leary’s tale is unabashedly sentimental, and it has no guile. Everything is played close to the surface, as in the scene where Emmet visits the box containing Mia’s ashes he carefully placed at the bottom of the lake: “I found my Mia nestled among the seaweed. The package was ragged. I don’t know if it was natural deterioration or if the fish were pecking away. I knew it didn’t matter to Mia. She was where she longed to be.” The metaphors are plain—Mia’s box dissolves as Emmet gains his footing and feels useful again helping Colin. The way Colin finds his confidence is fairly predictable. But in the author’s hands, these things are more comforting than cloying, and the story doesn’t overstay its welcome. This novel could have been a syrupy mess, but instead it is an affecting read.

A sweet, moving family tale.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73353-410-9

Page Count: 241

Publisher: Swan Creek Press, LLC

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2019

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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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