An achingly sweet feel-good story of love and redemption of all kinds.

STEPPING TO A NEW DAY

A BLESSINGS NOVEL

Every generation in a small town has its own drama, and everyone has his or her own way of getting through it.

It’s time to catch up with the good people of Henry Adams, Kansas. In the seventh Blessings installment, Jenkins (Forbidden, 2016, etc.) focuses on TC and Genevieve, who are reinventing themselves in their 60s. Our romantic leads both strive toward new goals: TC to start fresh in a new town and to improve his reading, and Genevieve to become a stronger, truer person, to herself and to others. Their determination is fortified by their adorable day-to-day interactions, whether it is shared silence on a drive or one building up the courage to ask the other to lunch. This little Utopia isn’t without its problems, of course, including lifelong grudges and con artists. And while there is a romance at the center, there are all kinds of relationships here. Nineteen-year-old Eli, having expressed the loss of his mother in the worst ways, works to reconcile with his father. Pastor and child psychologist Paula has to face her own demons after learning that her grandfather, who raised her, has died. And Genevieve's best friend, Marie, has to figure out how to fix their relationship after a self-inflicted isolation. Other names and faces pop in and out, giving us glimpses of past and future stories. Some are deliberately left open, but we know Jenkins will return to tell new ones about the people of Henry Adams. Her style is familiar and cozy, and Jenkins knows how to distinguish her characters’ voices so as not to confuse readers by the whirlwind changes in perspective. She's also good at weaving in back story so new readers will find themselves at home. It's easy to lose hours at a time caught up in this book.

An achingly sweet feel-good story of love and redemption of all kinds.

Pub Date: June 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-241263-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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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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