The New York Times Book Review: "...Kauffman has done something remarkable with “The Gunners,” the now grown group of childhood friends who adopted the moniker from the mailbox of the abandoned home they used as an after-school squat: She’s made spending time with them not just tolerable, but delightful. And she’s achieved this not by manufacturing likability, but by so convincingly rendering the affection between them that you accept each character’s foibles as readily as they do one another’s...There’s so much generosity and spirit and humor shared by whatever characters are on the page at any given time that I was always happy to accompany them."
NPR: "Unusually for a literary novelist, Kauffman has no fear of overt feeling. When she explores an emotion, she does it with absolute candor. Her characters announce their grief and affection and rage in a way that few others do...And the brilliance of The Gunners is that it helps you. Kauffman teaches you the right way to read her prose. To put it in Loofbourow's terms, she shows you how intentional she's being, how canny a writer she is...Another thing literary novelists don't often let themselves do is write novels with morals, or messages, but The Gunners has one. It's clear, though not easy: Accept your emotions. Feel them bluntly, plainly. Allow yourself to flinch. There isn't a better way forward. Not in life, and not, I suspect, on the page.
Oprah Magazine: "Beautifully wrought... Engrossing... Kauffman is interested in the muddiness of love—how it can be selfish and desperate, even cruel. After Sally's funeral, Alice tells Mikey about her technique for selecting and preserving earthworms to sell at her marina: Once picked, they need to be set in soil; otherwise, the worms will "kill themselves gettin' all wrapped up in each other." The novel is rife with images of the squiggly creatures, as well as grackles, owls, and other critters. When it comes to love, Kauffman suggests, we're equal parts predator and prey."
Entertainment Weekly This Week's Must List: "Kauffman’s moving novel follows a group of childhood friends who reunite after one dies by suicide. Each character comes to terms with their dark pasts and uncertain futures -- like an intimate hangout session, dashed with suspense and a few extra layers of emotional beauty. You’ll find yourself thinking of Freaks and Geeks, The Big Chill, and maybe all those friends you've been meaning to text."
Washington City Paper: "With its ensemble cast and weighty, sentimental subject matter, The Gunners is a feat in economy. Character backgrounds are executed in a matter of sentences rather than chapters; narrative intrigue is succinct and enduring. Kauffman wields a firm grasp on her characters, ensuring the reader loves them as she does without passing any direct judgment. The contrast between Mikey, resigned to his fate and scared of his own shadow, and Alice, who grabs life by the horns (among other things), fills quiet scenes with compelling tension. The third-person limited voice emphasizes misunderstandings compounded over years of separation, and the resolution strikes a heartrending note on the seasons of life without undermining any of the novel’s heavier themes. ...Friendship outweighs happiness or lack thereof, making their every interaction poignant and memorable. Kauffman’s precision in tackling the nature of love and fatality constitutes a major accomplishment for a young writer, and The Gunners packs a serious emotional punch in its pragmatic brevity."
Kirkus Review: "Kauffman has created vivid and compelling characters struggling with what is in some ways the most universal dilemma: how to grow up. Mikey especially is mature and thoughtful but not at all precious; and the boisterous, hilarious Alice is charming despite her best efforts to behave otherwise. In fluid prose, Kauffman lays bare the lessons of youth and truth. A layered and loving bildungsroman of friendship."
Publishers Weekly (Starred Review): "Perceptive, funny, and endearing...Reminiscent of The Big Chill and St. Elmo's Fire,...provides readers with an entire cast of characters who will feel like old friends."
Booklist Review: "...Kauffman’s quiet and deep second novel reconciles the responsibilities we carry and the secrets we keep with the outsize pleasure of being known and loved by a chosen family."
Library Journal: "VERDICT Neither dark nor despairing, this work admirably expresses the satisfying comfort derived from the survival of such long-term friendships even as it evokes sadness about the losses and challenges that come with transitioning to adulthood. A successful sophomore effort after Kauffman’s well-received first novel, Another Place You’ve Never Been."
Voted by Canada's Loan Star reader-advisory program and the Canadian Urban Libraries Council as a Favourite Upcoming March Title.
The Gunners is a Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers selection for 2018!
Chosen as a Best Book by: Esquire Magazine, Harper's Bazaar, Vanity Fair Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Real Simple Magazine, Nylon Magazine, Chicago Review of Books, TimeOut, Bustle, and JetSetter Magazine.
Selected as A Most Anticipated Book From:
The Huffington Post's 60 Books We Can't Wait To Read in 2018
Chicago Review of Books Most Anticipated Fiction of 2018
Southern Living's Best New Books Coming Out Spring 2018
From The Texas Book Festival Lit Director Desk: 2018 Reads
Ink and Fable's Top 5 Most Anticipated Reads of 2018
Book Riot's 101 Books Coming Out In 2018 That You Should Mark Down Now!
NYLON's 2018 Preview: 50 Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2018!
PureWow's 20 Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2018
Heard Tell's 5 Books I'm Excited About in Early 2018
The Real Deal's 35 Books We Can't Wait to Get Our Hands On In 2018
Book Bub's 30 Most Anticipated Book Club Books for 2018
Reading Women Podcast's Most Anticipated New Releases of 2018
Northern Virginia Magazine: New Releases We're Excited for This Month
"The Gunners follows a group of friends from their close knit childhood in working class Buffalo, NY to their disparate mid thirties. Mikey, Alice, Lynn, Jimmy, and Sam are brought together again by the sudden suicide of fellow "Gunner," Sally who, as a teenager, abruptly abandoned the group with little explanation. After the funeral, the group, reunited for the first time in a decade, spend a drunken evening grieving, reminiscing, confiding, consoling, and most importantly, just being with one another, while trying to understand the mysterious motivations of Sally'. Sharp, bighearted, and rich with specific detail, the story ticks every box in a bildungsroman you could hope for leaving readers with that familiar warm and tight-throated nostalgia you feel when rediscovering a shoe box of old photos from high school. Highly readable and certainly a good companion for a Spring Break getaway." —Katelyn O'brien, Square Books, Oxford MS
"There’s a special glue that holds a group together. But sometimes that glue dissolves and releases individuals to melt away into their own worlds. Such was the glue of the Gunners and such was the outcome when one of the group of youngsters, now teenagers, suddenly, for no apparent reason, removed herself from their midst. But Mikey was left alone with a secret that would follow him into his later years. It was not something which should have been a secret, you understand, but a secret it was. But he's not the only one keeping something to himself. When Sally commits suicide, the Gunners reunite but no-one knows if all the secrets she was carrying about their group will emerge. It’s time to face the truth and reach for forgiveness. My heart went out to Mikey from page one. This stand-out novel is an engrossing story of friendship and the consequences of trying to hide from life, as well as a memorable offering from a very good writer." —Linda Bond, Auntie's Books, Spokane, WA
"The Gunners is a story about friendship, family and loss told from the perspective of a group of childhood best friends who reunite in their early 30s after one of their own commits suicide. The novel, which weaves the group's present-day reunion with moments from their childhood, paints a nuanced, beautiful and often funny portrait of each character that kept me absorbed until the final page. The novel never spells out the exact reasons for Sally's suicide—which I was glad for—but rather reveals the complex mix of pain and secrets that each person brings into a friendship. There are many books about childhood friends, but this one stands out for its honest, messy and surprising characters that feel refreshingly real." —Elissa Englund, Bank Square Books, Mystic CT
"I recommend you read every single thing Rebecca Kauffman writes―start with this beautiful novel, and start now." ―Julie Buntin, author of Marlena
"Kauffman’s prose is restrained in a way that causes it to actually vibrate in places, and her details are so richly observed they feel like gems, impossible things mined from deep under the earth. Funny, raw, and deeply elegant, The Gunners is ultimately a meditation on friendship, that least examined, most mysterious form of love, perhaps more sacred for its incompleteness, for the ways we can never fool ourselves completely into believing we truly know one another." ―Rufi Thorpe, author of Dear Fang, with Love and The Girls from Corona del Mar
"The Gunners explores what it means to have people crawl into your heart and settle in for a lifetime. In this lovely, truthful novel of six people who have been friends since childhood, Rebecca Kauffman strips enduring love of all its usual romantic costumery, and shows us how it actually works." ―Martha Woodroof, author of Small Blessings
"I inhaled The Gunners in a single sitting, because I couldn’t stand to be away from it once I started it. Rebecca Kauffman's brilliantly rendered story of six childhood friends tells the hard truth about human love―what it seems to be from far away, and what it really is up close―boldly, with compassion and warmth and humor." ―Kayla Rae Whitaker, author of The Animators