A compelling exploration of self, family, love, and the power of new beginnings.

FAMILY TREE

After a year in a coma, Annie Rush wakes up to a world without her husband, the TV she developed, and a wealth of memories that put her life into context, but as her body and mind heal, she puts her faith in second chances.

As a successful cooking-show producer who’s married to the gorgeous star, Annie knows she’s lucky, so she overlooks the occasional arguments and her husband’s penchant for eclipsing her. She’s especially excited the day she finds out she’s pregnant and, ignoring her typical steadfast schedule, rushes to the set to tell him. And discovers him making love to his onscreen assistant. Stunned, Annie leaves, trying to figure out her next move, and is struck on the head by falling on-set machinery. She wakes a year later in her Vermont hometown, as weak as a kitten and suffering from amnesia. As the days pass, however, she finds clues and markers regarding her life, and many of her memories begin to fill in. She remembers Fletcher, the first boy she loved, and how their timing was always off. She wanted to leave her family’s maple farm behind and explore the world—especially once her cooking-themed film school project was discovered and she was enfolded into the LA world of a successful food show. Fletcher intended to follow her, until life created big roadblocks for their relationship that they could never manage to overcome. Now, however, Annie’s husband has divorced her while Fletcher has settled in Switchback, and just as things look like they may finally click for Fletcher and Annie, her pre-accident life comes calling again. Wiggs (Starlight on Willow Lake, 2015, etc.) examines one woman’s journey into losing everything and then winning it all back through rediscovering her passions and being true to herself, tackling a complicated dual storyline with her typical blend of authenticity and sensitivity.

A compelling exploration of self, family, love, and the power of new beginnings.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-242543-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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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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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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