An admirable story with shades of Rocky and Boyz N the Hood, told in an uncompromising and original voice.

THE STREETS

AN LP NOVEL

In Sheridan’s debut novel, a mixed martial arts fighter struggles to raise a teenage son while dealing with unsavory elements in Woodbridge, New Jersey.

In 2001, 20-something MMA competitor Franco—who evidently resembles both Sylvester Stallone and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson—trains hard when he’s not busy supporting his wife, Julie, and son, TJ, by working as a temporary worker at the docks for a man known as “The Frog.” But Franco’s potential fighting career is cut short by a devastating loss, during which he breaks his ankle. Seven years later, he’s divorced from his wife, but his MMA comeback may finally be on the horizon. He still handles unpleasant tasks for The Frog, such as cleaning up maggots or rat excrement at the docks. But his latest job is even dirtier: The Frog offers him a hefty sum to kill someone. Meanwhile, TJ, who lives with his mother, is staying with Franco for a few days. Father and son bond as Franco shows TJ some moves to use on a school bully. Unfortunately, criminal types soon threaten Franco’s return to the MMA cage—and threaten his loved ones, as well. Despite offering a sometimes-harrowing view of Franco’s life, Sheridan’s novel is surprisingly upbeat in tone; its resolute protagonist trains relentlessly and never gives up on his family, no matter what. The tale also addresses issues of race and social class in inspired ways, as Franco is an orphan of unknown heritage. Along the way, Sheridan’s exuberant prose entails rhythmic passages (“Had money for booze but not for shoes”) and copious wordplay (“Then onto Elizabeth and all its asphalt. Exhausted immigrants wonderin if it’s they own ass fault”). This results in a breezy narrative that complements the ever hopeful protagonist at its center.

An admirable story with shades of Rocky and Boyz N the Hood, told in an uncompromising and original voice.

Pub Date: June 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-73217-581-5

Page Count: 252

Publisher: Streets Creations

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2018

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...

FIREFLY LANE

Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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