For longtime fans who are looking forward to catching up with beloved characters.

ON THE CORNER OF HOPE AND MAIN

The residents of Henry Adams, Kansas, prepare to elect a new mayor.

Town matriarch Bernadine Brown is dealing with problems both personal and professional. Bernadine is struggling to move forward with her lover, Malachi July, after a terrible betrayal, and she sees how the upcoming mayoral election is causing fractures and fault lines in families throughout Henry Adams. The 10th installment of Jenkins' (Rebel, 2019, etc.) Blessings series is filled to the brim with characters and subplots, and if it starts off with perhaps too much exposition about events from past books, the people are still compelling. Women prioritizing their own feelings and needs in order to forgive and move forward is the thematic and emotional core of the book. Of particular note is the focus on longtime married couple Sheila and Barrett Payne. Sheila is still reeling from the devastating discovery of her husband’s infidelity despite her years of unwavering support for his military career. Barrett announces his plans to run for mayor and expects Sheila’s support, but Sheila has her own plans to run for mayor. Like most of the candidates, Sheila lacks political experience, but she presents a well-researched platform that will benefit all the town's citizens. When Barrett tells her that she “[doesn’t] know the first thing about running a town,” Sheila stands up for herself and her dreams. As the election continues, Bernadine’s ex-husband, Leo, appears in town, hoping to gain revenge for perceived slights in the past. Although the multiple long-running plotlines and extensive backstories might prove to be an impediment to new readers, this is still a charming installment full of warm, interesting characters. The small-town drama is intense, but Jenkins merrily moves the plot forward, always rewarding good people and punishing wrongdoers.

For longtime fans who are looking forward to catching up with beloved characters.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-269928-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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

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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

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