"An intense, lyrical portrait of America's vulnerable underbelly."– Kirkus Reviews
|Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2011|
|Page count: 194pp|
Hopelessness dims this poignant tale of a young woman’s tumultuous, modern American life.
Vera Violet, as she’s called by her boyfriend, Jimmy James Blood, lives a life of misery. In this depressing narrative darkened by doom, she knows only poverty, drugs, murder and incest. The sense of despair weighs heavily; perhaps too heavily for some readers. But those who persevere will be rewarded with an eloquent description of today’s desensitized, emotionally detached youth. Drugs and absent parents are mostly to blame, according to Anne, although unexplored causes, like technology and culture on a larger scale, could also play a part. Frequent drug use mirrors James Fogle’s sobering autobiography, Drugstore Cowboy, a term Anne frequently references in her debut. From the gloom of Washington state, where the timber industry rules, to the rotting bowels of St. Louis, Vera sees despondency in the clouds and pain in the stars while she sinks into the helpless feeling that her future holds nothing more than agony. Nonetheless, she lives on to take solace in the small things: her oxblood boots, which serve as her special connection to Jimmy James, the love of her life; and cherished memories of Colin, her troubled brother. Anne’s powerful storytelling startles readers with its unapologetic bleakness. Her crafting, although gray and humorless, candidly frames the drifting characters in a snapshot of life outside the confines of comfort.
An intense, lyrical portrait of America's vulnerable underbelly.
Hanna’s family has to move to America from Sweden right before Christmas, and Hanna is terribly homesick, at least until a surprise gift from her Grandmother shows up in a box full of Christmas goodies. Hanna is so disappointed that they might not even have time for Christmas this year with all of the unpacking that needs to be done. Then she sees something rustling in the straw in her Grandmother’s gift box. To her surprise, out pops a tiny little man, a tomten. Hanna soon learns how much trouble an unhappy tomten can cause as he spends all of his time getting into mischief for which Hanna is blamed. As Hanna helps her new magical companion overcome his homesickness, she finds her own draining away. Together they work to bring a little bit of Swedish Christmas to their new home in America. Bright, but simple illustrations add appeal to this story. An entertaining Christmas tale meant to tie in to a line of mail-order clothing, but not much more. (Picture book. 4-7)