You can—t go home again, it seems, and newcomer Hazuka does a fair job of showing why not, provided that a certain number of clinkers, stretchers, and forcing of parts are willingly overlooked. When Jimmy Dolan’s father dies, hit by a car while jogging in the wee small hours, Jimmy comes home to Newfield, Connecticut, after an absence of four years and change. Fifteen years have passed since his 1971 high school graduation, but that’s still not long enough for some people (like his older brother Gary, for example?) to have stopped thinking of him as —Mr. Hot Shit Valedictorian,— and it’s not long enough, either, for Jimmy to have laid to rest whatever the terrible, awful memory was that made it impossible for him to stay in Newfield even though he had a job there and a wonderful new wife and a son, all left behind when he took off for keeps. The —mystery— is a disappointment when it’s finally revealed—as to credibility and as to being a motive for flight—but Hazuka seems willing to overlook its porousness so long as it fits a bigger pattern in the book. Jimmy is struggling with guilt, you see, and Roger, his best friend from childhood on, is struggling with it also, in his case associated partly with his tour of duty in Vietnam. In the few days of his visit, Jimmy gets to know his ex-wife Beth again (in more ways than one), his bottled-up but passionate mother, the tough but secretly insecure Gary, and his own seven-year-old son—through whom he remembers much of his own vanished past. The big news, though, isn—t only that best friend Roger and ex-wife Beth have become an item—but that there’s something more to the death of Jimmy’s father than seen or known at first. Soapiness aside, an often involving look back at a family, a town, and the lives in it.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 1-882593-23-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Bridge Works

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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Wingate sheds light on a shameful true story of child exploitation but is less successful in engaging readers in her...


Avery Stafford, a lawyer, descendant of two prominent Southern families and daughter of a distinguished senator, discovers a family secret that alters her perspective on heritage.

Wingate (Sisters, 2016, etc.) shifts the story in her latest novel between present and past as Avery uncovers evidence that her Grandma Judy was a victim of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society and is related to a woman Avery and her father meet when he visits a nursing home. Although Avery is living at home to help her parents through her father’s cancer treatment, she is also being groomed for her own political career. Readers learn that investigating her family’s past is not part of Avery's scripted existence, but Wingate's attempts to make her seem torn about this are never fully developed, and descriptions of her chemistry with a man she meets as she's searching are also unconvincing. Sections describing the real-life orphanage director Georgia Tann, who stole poor children, mistreated them, and placed them for adoption with wealthy clients—including Joan Crawford and June Allyson—are more vivid, as are passages about Grandma Judy and her siblings. Wingate’s fans and readers who enjoy family dramas will find enough to entertain them, and book clubs may enjoy dissecting the relationship and historical issues in the book.

Wingate sheds light on a shameful true story of child exploitation but is less successful in engaging readers in her fictional characters' lives.

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-425-28468-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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This book sings with the terrible silence of dead civilizations in which once there was valor.


Written with quiet dignity that builds to a climax of tragic force, this book about the dissolution of an African tribe, its traditions, and values, represents a welcome departure from the familiar "Me, white brother" genre.

Written by a Nigerian African trained in missionary schools, this novel tells quietly the story of a brave man, Okonkwo, whose life has absolute validity in terms of his culture, and who exercises his prerogative as a warrior, father, and husband with unflinching single mindedness. But into the complex Nigerian village filters the teachings of strangers, teachings so alien to the tribe, that resistance is impossible. One must distinguish a force to be able to oppose it, and to most, the talk of Christian salvation is no more than the babbling of incoherent children. Still, with his guns and persistence, the white man, amoeba-like, gradually absorbs the native culture and in despair, Okonkwo, unable to withstand the corrosion of what he, alone, understands to be the life force of his people, hangs himself. In the formlessness of the dying culture, it is the missionary who takes note of the event, reminding himself to give Okonkwo's gesture a line or two in his work, The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger.

This book sings with the terrible silence of dead civilizations in which once there was valor.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 1958

ISBN: 0385474547

Page Count: 207

Publisher: McDowell, Obolensky

Review Posted Online: April 23, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1958

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