RaveNew York Times Book ReviewStreep draws out the adolescent boys — no small feat — and writes evocatively about their community, their dreams beyond their tiny town and the pull that keeps them close. What emerges is an immersive portrait of a small tribal town where shared history runs deep, opportunity feels elusive, and basketball is a visceral expression of collective pride, hope and grit ... Streep writes vividly about the game...and he writes with feeling about the Montana landscape that anchors the Arlee community ... Despite the basketball victories, and there are a lot of them, this is a melancholy book that is haunted by the specter of suicide ... Even tragedy can be monetized, and Streep deftly chronicles the challenging terrain ... He frets about coming off like another one of those \'outside journalists either applying a bore-like focus, without consent, to trauma, or romanticizing the culture.\' He avoids both traps, and, unlike so many reporters, he’s comfortable with what he doesn’t know.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewKolker carefully reconstructs the story of the household falling into bedlam as the strong, athletic brothers warred with their demons and one another in flights of violent rage, each one slipping further away ... Kolker tells their story with great compassion, burrowing inside the particular delusions and hospitalizations of each brother while chronicling the family’s increasingly desperate search for help. But Hidden Valley Road is more than a narrative of despair, and some of the most compelling chapters come from its other half, as a medical mystery ... A gifted storyteller, Kolker brings each family member to life ... Kolker is a restrained and unshowy writer who is able to effectively set a mood. As the walls begin closing in for the Galvins, he subtly recreates their feeling of claustrophobia, erasing the outside world that has offered so little help.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewI settled in, expecting to read a story that punctured Reagan’s indelible stereotype. Surely, the \'woman in Chicago\' would turn out to be an honorable, hard worker who had been unfairly maligned and chewed up in the maw of presidential politics. Nope. Levin’s book is much stranger than that because here’s the thing: Linda Taylor actually was a scam artist who cheated the system quite prolifically and without the slightest compunction ... Another author would have used the \'welfare queen\' as a jumping-off point to explore stereotypes, welfare politics and political rhetoric. Levin addresses all that, but his real goal is to put a face to Reagan’s bogeywoman, tracking every alias, every scam, every duped husband and every dodged arrest. He presents Linda Taylor not as a parable for anything grand, but as a singular American scoundrel who represented nothing but herself ... Part of the fun of Levin’s book is burrowing inside his obsessive quest ... Her crimes are so sprawling and confusing that at times she seems almost like a Keyser Söze master villain ... Through dogged reporting, Levin succeeds in building a timeline of her life, but she remains tantalizingly out of grasp, always one step ahead of our detective reporter who is left shuffling receipts from the wastebasket and scanning the horizon for her shadow.