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The Red Book

by Deborah Copaken Kogan |

REVIEWED BY MEREDITH MARAN

NOVEL

Given the entitlements of her characters, an alternate title for Deborah Copaken Kogan’s hilarious, addictive new novel might be The Born and Bred Book-not for nothing do the words “Harvard graduate” inspire rolls of the eye. But photojournalist and author Kogan (Shutterbabe) satisfies the envy itch with a brilliant, exquisitely modern expose of just how far from perfect the lives of the elite can be. We meet blue blood Addison, shopaholic stay-at-home mom Mia, journalist Jane and biracial banker Clover, all Harvard class of ’89, as they’re nervously preparing for their 20th reunion. In their bios for Harvard’s alumni publication “The Red Book,” each woman has revealed-and concealed-the realities of her adult life. Now, at the reunion, they must reconcile their official success stories with the harsh truths of their private hells. But as we watch them stumble, we sympathize: No one is exempt from pain. Kogan’s characters are so fully realized, their dilemmas so profoundly human, that we come to see them not as members of the vaunted ruling class but as flawed, farcical versions of our own imperfect selves.

A novel about the longings and foibles of those women who seem to have it all

What They Do in the Dark

by Amanda Coe |

REVIEWED BY KRISTEN MASCIA

NOVEL

In her gripping debut novel, screenwriter Coe tells the story of unlikely friends Gemma and Pauline, 10-year-old classmates in 1970s working-class England. A spoiled only child, Gemma fascinates semi-feral Pauline, who lives with an addict grandmother in virtual squalor. As they await the arrival of Lallie, a child star who’s filming at their school, Pauline follows Gemma like a shadow, and the girls make typical playground mischief-until one day their horseplay devolves into something darker, culminating in a truly terrifying twist that will leave readers stunned. A chilling tale about childhood innocence brutally lost.

Soldier Dogs

by Maria Goodavage |

REVIEWED BY CAROLINE LEAVITT

NONFICTION

Cairo, a Belgian Malinois, accompanied the Navy SEALs who brought down Osama bin Laden, but other less famous canine commandos sniff out bombs, act as sentries and even track the masterminds behind explosives. Journalist Goodavage gives in-the-trenches access to the training for both pups and handlers, exploring the dogs’ highly developed sense of smell, the tender devotion between handlers and their charges and the desperate need for dogs of war to be able to retire to loving homes when their work for our country is done. A moving portrait of the loyal, courageous, furry warriors who truly are an enlisted Man’s Best Friend.

Triggered

by Fletcher Wortmann |

REVIEWED BY JUDITH NEWMAN

MEMOIR

“Consider … at any moment, the end of the world could occur … [Now] prove, with absolute certainty, that this is not true.” In his grimly funny memoir, Wortmann, an actor and comedy writer, describes the heart-thumping panic that came with his obsessive-compulsive disorder. Only adherence to certain elaborate rituals, he believed, could ward off annihilation. Triggered is key reading for sufferers of this debilitating condition-and for those who want to understand them.