Books by Gaye Hicyilmaz

SMILING FOR STRANGERS by Gaye Hicyilmaz
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 24, 2000

Exhibiting a shrewdness born from desperation, a fourteenyearold girl makes the hazardous journey from the wartorn countryside outside of Sarajevo to the safety of England. Knowing the war might soon force them to flee their rustic hideaway, Nina and her grandfather sleep on the back veranda with their bags packed. This part of the book is vividly rendered and crammed with extraordinary details that beautifully illuminate their daytoday struggle. For example, Nina's grandfather scatters objects along the path to their hideout so that visitors will make enough noise stumbling to alert them to possible danger. But, the story loses steam at its heart, when Nina has to escape the country, hoping for sanctuary from a friend of her now-deceased mother in Sussex, England. Her grandfather advises her to join an aid convoy that is being turned back, obtaining help by choosing a person whom she thinks `will say yes` to her plea for assistance, then asking that person nicely for help. Flashing `her most brilliant, grownup smile,` Nina is helped and hindered by various people with perplexing and ambiguous agendas. She finally makes it to Sussex and is taken in by her mother's friend, but the situation between them is rife with misunderstandings. It's impossible not to feel sympathy for this poor child who has been through so much, and Hicyilmaz (The Frozen Waterfall, 1994, pointer) renders her situation with a welcome complexity. Yet, the flesh and blood Nina remains emotionally out of reach, inhibiting the reader from making a true connection. (Historical fiction. 10-12)Read full book review >
AGAINST THE STORM by Gaye Hicyilmaz
FICTION
Released: May 1, 1992

It's a common story: a family abandons a farm whose crops no longer sustain them, only to discover that the city offers even less hope. Mehmet's feckless father leads his big extended family to Ankara, but the new life is bitter. Wealthy Uncle Yusuf's ``help'' means exploiting his relatives as landlord and employer; his wife is a mean gossip, their son a pampered, vicious sneak. Mehmet makes friends with illiterate, streetwise Muhlis, a talented artist; he also seeks out his best friend from home, whose parents had brought him to Ankhara for better schooling. But the brilliant Hayri, suddenly orphaned, is now starving and demented; Mehmet gets him to a wealthy woman who kindly takes him in, but, ironically, Hayri's new home and prospects set him beyond Mehmet's reach as a friend. Just as Mehmet and Muhlis are planning to return to Mehmet's village, Muhlis is killed in an accident that dramatizes the city's indifference to its poor. Leaving his family, Mehmet sets out for the village alone. Hiáyilmaz, who ``lived in Turkey for many years,'' evokes the milieu with a skill, sympathy, and rich detail that recall Staples's Shabanu (1989); her characterizations may not be as deep, but even the many minor characters here are perceptively realized, while she contrasts the four boys' opportunities— functions more of luck than of native gifts or good will—in a gracefully fashioned plot growing naturally from her theme. A memorable story that will open minds and hearts. (Fiction. 12+) Read full book review >