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April and Oliverby Tess Callahan
Synopses & Reviews
Best friends since childhood, the sexual tension between April and Oliver has always been palpable. Years after being completely inseparable, they become strangers, but the wildly different paths of their lives cross once again with the sudden death of April's brother. Oliver, the responsible, newly engaged law student finds himself drawn more than ever to the reckless, mystifying April — and cracks begin to appear in his carefully constructed life. Even as Oliver attempts to save his childhood friend from her grief, her menacing boyfriend and herself, it soon becomes apparent that Oliver has some secrets of his own — secrets he hasn't shared with anyone, even his fiance. But April knows, and her reappearance in his life derails him. Is it really April's life that is unraveling, or is it his own? The answer awaits at the end of a downward spiral...towards salvation.
"In this memorable debut, Callahan offers a uniquely funereal love story that focuses on a stagnant friendship-turned-untenable romance between unlikely life-long friends. To deal with the death of her immediate family, as well as the scars of childhood abuse, April assumes the role of the jaded wild child; Oliver, her once-inseparable childhood companion, has become her polar opposite, an engaged law student poised for success. Estranged during Oliver's college years, the two reconnect with troubling results. Callahan's descriptions are vivid, and often paired with charming flashbacks to more innocent times, providing stark contrast to the tumultuous course of April and Oliver's young-adult lives. Callahan's narrative takes some supporting-character detours from the principles' love-hate relationship, including an abusive boyfriend; a manipulative and dangerous family friend, and April's strong-but-slipping Nana. Callahan's poetic style and grasp of emotion gives proper weight to April's loss and Oliver's secrets, and is sure to engage, sadden, and enthrall readers, especially in a bittersweet, somewhat surprising finale." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Tess Callahan's first novel, "April & Oliver," offers up young lovers who are all bad timing and botched encounters and smoldering passion. Childhood friends, the two are separated by time and an unhappy shared history, but they come together again when April's beloved younger brother dies in a car accident. By then, unfortunately, there is another woman in the picture; decent Oliver, who is in... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) law school, is engaged to Bernadette, who teaches disabled children with saintly joy, but it is troubled and troubling April whom Oliver can't forget. With her unstudied sexiness, vulnerability and intelligence, April exerts an irresistible attraction: She's a girl in need of protection from her own grief and bad choices, and Oliver wants desperately to help her. In trying to persuade us of the caliber of this couple's response to each other, Callahan's prose is occasionally overwrought. There's a little too much electricity rippling across skin, a little too much warmth radiating from thighs. Oliver's jaw is chiseled, and April smells sometimes like the sea, sometimes like "grass after heavy rain." At one point, Oliver's eyes are described as "luminous as glacial ice, those radiant cobalt crevices lit from within." This kind of description focuses our attention on the least complicated (and, in the end, least interesting) aspect of love: its superficial thrill. When Oliver's brother says impatiently, "Just get it out of your systems already. It's only sex, you know," we're inclined to agree with him. But Callahan wants the couple's attraction to be about more than sex. April and Oliver are also soul mates, and many readers will find their bumpy road compelling, a sensitive and emotional account of two people grappling with the complicated force of mutual attraction when it strikes the right people at the wrong time. Reviewed by Carrie Brown, whose most recent novel is 'The Rope Walk', Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"The opening chapters of this emotional whirlpool of a debut novel are gripping, owing to Callahan's sharp, savvy storytelling. Callahan spins a dark, gritty tale of love, yearning, and choices while presenting engaging characters and substantial action that packs more than a few punches. Wise beyond words." Library Journal (starred review)
"In a first novel suffused with grief and longing, childhood soul mates reconnect in the aftermath of a death." Kirkus Reviews
"The urgency of Callahan's narrative and its volatile juxtapositions...make it impossible not to care deeply for these characters and their thwarted yearning and their heart-wrenching stories." Bob Shacochis, National Book Award-winning author of Easy in the Islands
"Grappling fates are the DNA of suspense, and Tess Callahan braids loss, longing, romance and violence into a tense, gratifying narrative." Sven Birkerts, author of Reading Life: Books for the Ages
A devastating tragedy serves to reunite two friends from childhood, in this emotionally compelling and sexually charged first novel from an exciting new voice in fiction. 336 p.
About the Author
A painter, teacher and mother of twins, Tess Callahan has written for the New York Times magazine, Cottonwood, The Stylus Anthology: 1950-2000, the Boston College magazine, New York Newsday and elsewhere. April & Oliver is her first novel.
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