Twenty-one stories by some of America's most promising lesbian writersfor a discerning literary audience of all genders and orientations. Assembled by Wolverton and Drake (Indivisible, 1991, not reviewed), this first contribution to what will be an annual series of companion anthologies (His will be available in September 1995) is surprisingly consistent in quality while varying wildly in subject matter and style. Themes run the gamut from childhood loss of innocence to adolescent coming-out experiences, breast cancer, women in the military, life as a car saleswoman, and turmoil in the Middle East; what the most memorable pieces share, though, is an ability to convey universal truth in an uncommon way. In Elise D`Haene's ``Self-Deliverance,'' two womenfriends and sometimes lovershelp a mutual friend who is dying of AIDS to commit a dignified suicide. The message is a poignant (if arguable) one: It's not about who you love, it's about how you love. Hildie V. Krause's ``Mrs. Yakamoto Comes to Stay'' features a lesbian in a green-card marriage who breaks down and confesses the sham when she's left alone with her Japanese mother-in-law. Mrs. Yakamoto not only keeps the secret but teaches her daughter-in-law that stereotypes are never as complicated as the real people they pigeonhole. ``Campers,'' by Eloise Klein Healey, treats a ``relationship on vacation'' story with humor, tension, and an unexpected twist, and Jane Thurmond's ``The Great Baptism'' explores a brief and unusual relationship through an evocative metaphor and a flood of water imagery. Only a few disappoint: Wendy Frisch's ``E=mc2'' is mindlessly frivolous, and Robin Podolsky's ``Joshua'' tries too hard. But, mostly, it's the strength of the voices that lingers. An eclectic, charismatic collection with just a few dissonant clunkers.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-571-19867-8

Page Count: 206

Publisher: Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1995

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


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

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