A well-constructed, compelling addition to an ongoing time-travel tale.

TIME TO HEAL

From the American Epochs series , Vol. 3

McClimans (Time Underground, 2015, etc.) returns to the time-traveling adventures of teens Kristi Connors and Ty Jordan in this third volume of his YA sci-fi series.

At George Washington Prep, seventh-grader Kristi is annoyed at having to share a room with her younger, bratty stepsister. To make matters worse, she misses her classmate and best friend, Ty, whom she last saw back in 1858; they’d taken a time machine to the days of the Underground Railroad to help her ancestor gain his freedom. Ty decided to remain in the past, where he, too, lives with a sibling of sorts: his much older twin, Thomas (it makes sense in context). When Kristi begins learning about the Civil War in school—a conflict in which 700,000 men died—she realizes that the war was only a couple of years into Ty’s future when she left him. She goes to Thomas’ farm, now a museum dedicated to the Underground Railroad, and is horrified to discover a grave on the property: “Ty Jordan / Born September 19, 1847 / Died September 17, 1862 / Beloved Brother, / Youngest Surgeon in the Union Army.” Back in the past, the novel follows Ty’s attempts to serve his country, not as a soldier but as a doctor. It’s a journey that will take him from the hospitals of Washington, D.C., to his inevitable death at the Battle of Antietam. Inevitable, that is, unless Kristi and her time machine can do something about it. Fans of the series will appreciate this latest entry, which tackles perhaps the most tumultuous American epoch of them all. McClimans alternates between Kristi’s and Ty’s perspectives to tell his story of two friends trying to stop each other from becoming casualties in the nation’s bloodiest war. He writes in a sharp, energetic prose (“Kristi Connors lunged to catch a rolling can of Coca-Cola as it spread a fizzling brown wave across her desktop”), and the novel’s quick pace and unusual chronology make for an engrossing read. The book also isn’t afraid to dive into the grittiness of the period—the political divisions that tear communities apart, the horrors of warfare, and the brutality of contemporary surgical practices—and yet it also manages to remain lively and fun.

A well-constructed, compelling addition to an ongoing time-travel tale.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-937997-73-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Overdue Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

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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