MixedNewsday\'She has, in fact, done a superb job of capturing a group of friends in a particular time and place with humor and compassion. Conversations among her gay male characters feel very real — not too flamboyant, not too serious, always morbidly witty. It\'s hard not to get drawn into this circle of promising young men as they face their brutally premature extinction. Having said that, long parts of The Great Believers drag and sink into banality ... In the final chapters, the character of Fiona also deepens and grabs the reader ... The final pages of The Great Believers are tear-jerkers, full of a hard-earned joy and an almost cathartic expression of grief and remembrance. (To be more specific would be to spoil.) Makkai\'s novel is a strong reminder that when writers attempt to tell the story of other lives with skill, care and compassion, the results can serve as a kind of gift to the subjects, because they say so clearly, \'I have seen you.\'
MixedThe Washington PostTwo literary traditions — the small-town novel and the coming-of-age novel — intertwine genially in Setting Free the Kites ... Though Setting Free the Kites is being marketed as a book for adults, there’s something adolescent about its wistful narrator and somewhat predictable plot. Also, the story suggests a watered-down John Irving in its quaintly hardscrabble New England setting, eccentrically lovable secondary characters and quirky mishaps ... It’s hard to escape the feeling that George, a Brit who lives in Missouri, is enamored of American small-town life without knowing it deeply enough to capture its truly stranger and darker sides.