AMERICAN BOY

Watson's (Montana 1948, 1993, etc.) sixth novel resonates with language as clear and images as crisp as the spare, flat prairie of its Minnesota setting.

Matthew Garth's father died when Matt was a young boy, leaving him to be raised, or watched over as he raised himself, by a withdrawn, hard-working waitress mother. But Matt has a second family, the Dunbars, parents of his best friend, Johnny. Rex Dunbar is Willow Fall's most prominent physician, and his passion for medicine fascinates Matt and Johnny, high-school seniors. Dunbar often allows them to follow along as he carries out his practice, always offering instructions about medicine's basics. It is Thanksgiving 1962. Kennedy is president but all that is Willow Falls is evocative of Eisenhower and Father Knows Best. The Dunbars, with Matt, are celebrating when word comes that young Louisa Lindahl has been shot by her boyfriend and has gone missing. The boys are sent to help search. Dr. Dunbar prepares his clinic. Louisa is discovered by other searchers, and when the boys return, Dr. Dunbar has completed surgery. The boys are curious about the nature of a gunshot wound, and as Dunbar lifts the sheet from the unconscious woman to explain his abdominal surgery, Matt catches a glimpse of her breasts. Matt is captivated, and with that, a vivid story of sexual tension, family loyalty and betrayal unfolds. Matt wants Louisa, mysterious and thoroughly erotic, everything high-school girls are not, and since her lover and assailant committed suicide, he believes he can have her. Louisa is also a manipulative opportunist. After she is given shelter by the Dunbars, she quietly sets out to seduce the doctor, determined to "…advance her station in life through imitation and force of will." The introspective, insightful and reflective narrative unfolds from Matt's adult perspective, easily inferred early but not confirmed until the conclusion.

A literary tale chronicling the painful struggle required of a boy to birth himself as a man.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-57131-078-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Milkweed

Review Posted Online: Sept. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A clever and current book about a complicated woman and her romantic relationships.

CONVERSATIONS WITH FRIENDS

The story of the entangled affairs of a group of exceedingly smart and self-possessed creative types.

Frances, an aloof and intelligent 21-year-old living in Dublin, is an aspiring poet and communist. She performs her spoken-word pieces with her best friend and ex-lover, Bobbi, who is equally intellectual but gregarious where Frances is shy and composed where Frances is awkward. When Melissa, a notable writer and photographer, approaches the pair to offer to do a profile of them, they accept excitedly. While Bobbi is taken with Melissa, Frances becomes infatuated by her life—her success, her beautiful home, her actor husband, Nick. Nick is handsome and mysterious and, it turns out, returns Frances’ attraction. Although he can sometimes be withholding of his affection (he struggles with depression), they begin a passionate affair. Frances and Nick’s relationship makes difficult the already tense (for its intensity) relationship between Frances and Bobbi. In the midst of this complicated dynamic, Frances is also managing endometriosis and neglectful parents—an abusive, alcoholic father and complicit mother. As a narrator, Frances describes all these complex fragments in an ethereal and thoughtful but self-loathing way. Rooney captures the mood and voice of contemporary women and their interpersonal connections and concerns without being remotely predictable. In her debut novel, she deftly illustrates psychology’s first lesson: that everyone is doomed to repeat their patterns.

A clever and current book about a complicated woman and her romantic relationships.

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-451-49905-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Hogarth

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 14

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2014

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Pulitzer Prize Winner

  • National Book Award Finalist

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

more