An ambitious and dynamic portrayal of the harm humans—even young girls—can do.


Five women are forever shaped by a harrowing experience they shared as girls at summer camp.

It's 1994 at Forevermore, a sleep-away camp in the Pacific Northwest. The first days are filled with singalongs and preparations for an overnight kayaking trip. Siobhan, a new camper, tries to adapt to the strange social dynamics. One magnetic girl named Dina receives desperate offerings of daisy chains and chocolate milk, while Andee, a tough girl, nearly fails the swim test as everyone gathers to watch her struggle. Someone in the crowd whispers a name for what Andee is: “One of the scholarship girls.” Siobhan is stung and confused by the small cruelties of Nita, a veteran camper. Isabel, meanwhile, has remained largely invisible and silent until the third day, when the kayaking trip sets off. Fu (For Today I Am a Boy, 2014, etc.) alternates between short chapters about the kayaking trip and long, expansive sections following each of the girls far into the future. We see the ripple effects of this summer before the specifics of what happened unfold. The trip becomes a predictable, though nightmarish, tale of survival, but Fu’s characters are rich, real, and distinct. What happened at Forevermore is not, we see, the worst tragedy of most of their lives—but it is formative. With rawness and objectivity, Fu depicts the women these girls become along with their struggles, both cosmic and mundane. Ultimately, Siobhan is the axis of the novel. Her story is given fewer pages and saved until last, but it resonates deeply and gives sharp focus to what came before.

An ambitious and dynamic portrayal of the harm humans—even young girls—can do.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-09826-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 10

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize

  • 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

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

More about grief and tragedy than romance.


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet