Occasionally drab due to its subject matter, but an insightful, impressively broad glimpse of a formidable mission.

We'll Live Tomorrow

From debut author Everett comes a novel about contemporary chaotic life in Afghanistan.

“Aid work was my life,” Hunter Ames says. The divorced, middle-aged, former Peace Corps volunteer tries to do his small part to help rebuild war-torn Afghanistan, working for USAID, an American enterprise engaged in various projects to help the people of Afghanistan (and elsewhere) while building a positive relationship with its people. It’s a job full of difficult personalities, corruption, and tremendous amounts of American money. “What Is Not Spent Cannot Be Billed,” Hunter’s boss stressed—“He referred to it as something so absolute and unquestioned that it might have been chiseled into stone tablets”—meaning in effect that large amounts of taxpayer dollars had to be spent regardless of the usefulness in doing so. Because insurgent attacks and irate Afghanis were always a possibility, the job was dangerous and frustrating. Amid this quagmire is green-eyed Karimullah, a young Afghani man who escaped a life of forced prostitution in “the hidden world of bacha bazi.” Karimullah works for Americans such as Hunter, though doing so puts Karimullah’s life in danger. How will these two ever survive a place as unstable and disjointed as Afghanistan? Everett offers an authentic look at the strange world of foreign aid work, with subject matter ranging from office politics to suicide bombers to the human need to be part of a group: “We’re tribal creatures,” says an acquaintance of Hunter’s. The story goes deeper, exploring the former lives of Hunter and Karimullah in places that have little to do with the United States government. For instance, thinking about his son, Hunter reflects: “What do we ever really know about our parents?” Details of bureaucratic life can prove dull, however, particularly with the attendant emails and meetings: “I had a meeting planned that afternoon with the contractor who would be filling an order for farm machinery,” Hunter says. Yet, on the whole, the narrative composes a realistic and touching image of the men and women involved in this complex relationship and the infinite trials of an operation as arcane and immense as rebuilding a nation.

Occasionally drab due to its subject matter, but an insightful, impressively broad glimpse of a formidable mission.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9962871-0-4

Page Count: -

Publisher: Galatea Press

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2015

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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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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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