A probing, sometimes-intriguing summer’s tale.

FACTORY

A coming-of-age novel follows a young woman searching for a direction in her life.

In the late 1980s, Lee Bauer returns home to Toledo, Ohio, after flunking out of her first year of college. Lee’s grades suffered not from a dearth of intelligence, but a lack of motivation; she became uninterested in school and “flaked” on her homework. She’s lost her connection with longtime friend Courtney—who seemed to thrive in her first year at college—and is burned out by the social scene in Toledo, full of fellow ne’er-do-wells getting high at house parties, like Derrick, a muscular pothead who’s coming off a tough breakup. To pay back her parents—her gruff father, a postman, and her weary mother, a waitress—Lee finds a job at an ice cream factory, toiling eight hours a day packaging products on an assembly line. While the position eventually becomes mindless to her, she makes friends with some of her fellow shift workers: Paul, a gossip hound; Ned, a family man; Kevin, a younger worker with eyes for Lee; and Kris, a witty, fascinating woman. As Lee starts to form new bonds, she also begins to more fully explore her desire for women, something she had only briefly indulged in before. As the summer progresses, Lee must confront her listlessness and find a life for herself, lest she fall into the trap of working at the factory full time. Yost’s (Votives, 2017, etc.) prose is meditative, imbuing the milieu of the small city with existential weight. Lee is well-developed as a central character, sadly realistic about her hometown (“Toledo never had anything to offer teenagers or college kids…they were the lost generation redone. In Toledo, we sought dark woods and abandoned alleys in which to get stoned or screwed, then faced the endless problem of what to do after burning the joint or buttoning the pants. Prospects were bleak for the unimaginative”). Her quest for meaning is full of mistakes and setbacks as well as illuminating steps toward clarity, particularly in discovering her sexuality. The rest of the characterization is a bit uneven—Lee’s father and Kris have captivating, rounded characters while Lee’s mother and sister, for instance, can feel static. The plot comes to a subtle, if uneasy, end, which is fitting for Lee’s character but will likely be somewhat frustrating for readers.

A probing, sometimes-intriguing summer’s tale.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-9984146-0-7

Page Count: 254

Publisher: Radial Books, LLC

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2018

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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

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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