BRAVE FACE

A MEMOIR

A ’90s era teen–cum–YA novelist presents a frank, good-humored recollection of depression, self-loathing, and eventual self-respect.

For the fainthearted, a disclaimer gives fair warning that this trip is pregnant with discomfort and mounds of bad behavior. Make it past that fence post and there’s an amalgam of emails, journal entries, and early writing peppered throughout a contemporary memoir. These time-capsule bread crumbs of Hutchinson’s (The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried, 2019, etc.) younger voice layer even more honesty than might otherwise be there; though it’s autobiographical, he’s acutely aware that he’s writing what he remembers. As a teen he grapples with his sexuality, unable to understand why his heterosexual make-outs skew repulsive instead of gratifying. When Hutchinson’s own writing helps him realize that he’s gay, it’s not a smooth shift to self-love; rather, the realization helps him articulate why he hates himself. Being gay instills a fear of rejection because he doesn’t yet have the faculty to realize that homosexuality is more than subscribing to a flamboyant Hollywood stereotype doomed to be treated with disgust or ridicule. In recognizing he’s gay, he’s now tasked with re-establishing a future that had been previously forecast on a disingenuous heterosexual foundation. His depression’s always-there voice of suicide says he’ll never have what he wants, coloring his days difficult. There’s a lot to endure and survive and screw up before he finds there’s a niche for anyone in the queer community.

Compelling. (Memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: May 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3151-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Skilled and graceful exploration of the soul of an astonishing human being.

MOUNTAINS BEYOND MOUNTAINS

Full-immersion journalist Kidder (Home Town, 1999, etc.) tries valiantly to keep up with a front-line, muddy-and-bloody general in the war against infectious disease in Haiti and elsewhere.

The author occasionally confesses to weariness in this gripping account—and why not? Paul Farmer, who has an M.D. and a Ph.D. from Harvard, appears to be almost preternaturally intelligent, productive, energetic, and devoted to his causes. So trotting alongside him up Haitian hills, through international airports and Siberian prisons and Cuban clinics, may be beyond the capacity of a mere mortal. Kidder begins with a swift account of his first meeting with Farmer in Haiti while working on a story about American soldiers, then describes his initial visit to the doctor’s clinic, where the journalist felt he’d “encountered a miracle.” Employing guile, grit, grins, and gifts from generous donors (especially Boston contractor Tom White), Farmer has created an oasis in Haiti where TB and AIDS meet their Waterloos. The doctor has an astonishing rapport with his patients and often travels by foot for hours over difficult terrain to treat them in their dwellings (“houses” would be far too grand a word). Kidder pauses to fill in Farmer’s amazing biography: his childhood in an eccentric family sounds like something from The Mosquito Coast; a love affair with Roald Dahl’s daughter ended amicably; his marriage to a Haitian anthropologist produced a daughter whom he sees infrequently thanks to his frenetic schedule. While studying at Duke and Harvard, Kidder writes, Farmer became obsessed with public health issues; even before he’d finished his degrees he was spending much of his time in Haiti establishing the clinic that would give him both immense personal satisfaction and unsurpassed credibility in the medical worlds he hopes to influence.

Skilled and graceful exploration of the soul of an astonishing human being.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2003

ISBN: 0-375-50616-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2003

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This is clearly not unbiased reporting, but it makes a strong case that justice in our legal system does not always fit the...

ONE CUT

From the Simon True series

Porinchak recounts how the legal system fails five teens who commit a serious crime.

The May 22, 1995, brawl in a white suburb of Los Angeles that resulted in the death of one teen and the injury of another is related matter-of-factly. The account of the police investigation, the judicial process, and the ultimate incarceration of the five boys is more passionately argued. Since the story focuses on the teens’ experiences following the brawl, minimal attention is given to Jimmy Farris, who died, although the testimony of Mike McLoren, who survived, is crucial. The book opens with a comprehensive dramatis personae that will help orient readers, and the text is liberally punctuated by quotes drawn from contemporary newspaper and magazine coverage as well as interviews with several of the key figures, including three of the accused. Porinchak argues that the proceedings were influenced by the high-profile 1994 trial and acquittal of the Menendez brothers, and unfounded accusations of gang involvement further clouded the matter. Despite the journalistic style, there is clear intent to elicit sympathy for the five boys involved, three of whom were sentenced to life without parole; of two, the text remarks that “they were numbers now, not humans.”

This is clearly not unbiased reporting, but it makes a strong case that justice in our legal system does not always fit the crime. (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8132-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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