RavePIttsburgh Post-GazetteThe story of how Greene grows into one of the savviest, most knowledgeable patrons of the arts (despite the fact that the objects she acquires are always for someone else) would be a page-turner even if the only challenge Greene faced lay in being a woman of the early 1900s holding such an important position ... an extraordinary tale ... With careful brushstrokes, Benedict and Murray intermittently draw the reader back in time to reveal Greene’s younger years ... As is required for her to successfully infiltrate spaces the rest of the world conspires to keep her from, she is sharp and shielding, hiding much from even such avid researchers as Benedict and Murray—and thus, their readers. Greene lived with joys and losses. The readers experience them, understanding how her life’s path liberated and veiled her, how it provided the perfect cocktail to fuel bold risks, and the cover to duck under at the same time ... The story of Belle da Costa Greene is timely, universal, and enduring.
RavePittsburgh Post-GazetteUsing delicate, refined analogies, a jarring plot twist and surprising character development, Vida brings to life Sea Cliff ... The author makes excellent use of San Francisco as a character, one that shapes everyone in the novel in bold, unique ways ... Vida’s masterful portrayal of Eulabee’s inner world, the dynamics of her friend group and the girls’ reactions to the times creates a universal connection for readers in all the right ways ... Vida’s writing shines as she captures this exciting, vulnerable and sometimes worrisome time when a girl is puzzling out her position in the world, who she wants to be, and how that fits with the person others have decided she already is ... The story plays out inside the architecture of ’80s pop culture, with Vida hitting every right note. It’s a testament to her writing that even someone who grew up across the country from Sea Cliff’s sunny beaches, attending public school where three rivers meet under slate gray skies, could be so easily drawn in by references that evoke what feels like shared life experiences.
RavePittsburgh Post-GazetteIt’s told in brusque and pointed language, with cringe-inducing observations that evoke empathy for every single thing Giovanna experiences ... Ferrante draws the reader into Giovanna’s world to experience her powerlessness and to witness her incredible agency—something that not even Giovanna recognizes as her own until it’s almost too late. The Lying Life of Adults is must-reading. The story is compelling by itself, but it’s doubly so in that it reminds the reader that although there’s incredible advantage in one’s youth, it’s blunted by painful lessons that come with learning the world is never exactly what one is led to believe it is, and it never will be.
PositivePittsburgh Post-GazetteThough slow at times, City of Girls, the latest novel by Elizabeth Gilbert, is an engrossing read...narrated by the elderly Vivian Morris in a voice so strong that I immediately felt as though she was addressing me as much as the Angela to whom she is actually writing ... Young Vivian’s voice is honest, upfront, and expressive in elucidating her immature, selfish desires and ambitions, all conveyed with a witty self-deprecation which makes her likable ... The dialogue is snappy and fun ... Slick turns of phrase abound, complemented by snappy, playful back-and-forth between showgirls, homeless-but-important actors, and the seedy men they love ... despite all the delicious language, the middle gets a little stuffy. While I gobbled up each and every word, I was nonetheless conscious of the slow-turning plot ... a slow romp but well worth the time.