A somber exploration of the confines of suburban life and the secrets that can sustain or suffocate.

Airstreaming

In Schabarum’s (The Narrows, Miles Deep, 2011, etc.) novel, a mother and daughter are at odds following the loss of their husband and father, and a couple seeks escape after their baby is stillborn.

Outside of Kansas City in the late 1960s, the bonds between 16-year-old Linda and her mother, Clare, are wearing thin in the wake of her father’s death. While Clare worked to support the family, Linda's blind father bestowed upon her his love of jazz. The loss of her husband creates an even greater financial strain for Clare, and she’s forced to find work for Linda. Linda leaves school to help Martha and Jack, an expectant couple in their late 30s. She’s thrust into their day-to-day routine, helping with chores and housework while Martha is on bed rest. When Jack is away on business, Linda and Clare rush to Martha just in time to help deliver her stillborn baby. Linda’s presence becomes a calming force for Martha and Jack as they rebuild themselves and their relationship after the loss of their child. Jack buys an Airstream trailer and makes plans with Martha to leave their life behind and go “streaming.” Jack loves it: “From a service manager’s point of view [Jack] had an appreciation for how everything was put together: no wasted space, easy to maintain, easy to fix. He marveled at its simplicity.” Meanwhile, Linda and Clare, still ravaged by loss, are both tempted by the freedom of a life apart from one another. With no wasted space yet plenty of emotion, the simplicity of Schabarum’s writing is a marvel. Compact sentences brim with an appreciation for character and the lonely expanse of suburban life. The constantly shifting characters become inextricably linked in different ways, until they ultimately separate, finding freedom in loss and letting go.

A somber exploration of the confines of suburban life and the secrets that can sustain or suffocate. 

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0615603049

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Cascadia Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

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

Did you like this book?

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 15

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • National Book Award Finalist

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

Did you like this book?

more