by Tricia Yost ‧ RELEASE DATE: N/A
A probing, sometimes-intriguing summer’s tale.
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
Page Count: 254
Publisher: Radial Books, LLC
Review Posted Online: March 31, 2018
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Hanya Yanagihara ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015
The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2015
National Book Award Finalist
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
Page Count: 720
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015
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by Harper Lee ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 11, 1960
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
Page Count: 323
Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960
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