THE OTHER SHEPARDS

Griffin (Sons of Liberty, 1997, etc.) peeks into the lives of two sisters, eighth-grader Holland and sixth-grader Geneva Shepard, who live in the shadow of three older siblings killed 18 years ago—before Holland and Geneva were born. The girls are haunted by these siblings through their parents’ emotionally crippled behavior and the legendary status of the tragedy in their New York City community. Holland and obsessive-compulsive Geneva literally confront these ghosts when Annie appears in their lives; wearier every time the girls see her, she is ostensibly a muralist and guardian angel of sorts, guiding the girls to find their paths apart from the family tragedy. Annie’s identity and the direction of the plot are obvious; the premise is haunting and poetic, but is squandered in Holland’s fairly conventional blossoming relationship with a boy and Geneva’s neuroses. The awkwardness of Holland’s narration is compelling at first; she and Geneva act more like tenants in their parents’ lives than beloved members of a family. Then a more pretentious tone emerges: “They will continue to meet in the twilight kingdom of their dining room, and their grief is a feast of pain I can not touch.” A brighter fate for the girls is promised, but whether this devastated family has a real happy ending isn’t answered in these pages. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-7868-0423-8

Page Count: 218

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1998

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BURIED ONIONS

Eddie, a young Mexican-American scraping by in the mean streets of Fresno, California, counts four dead relatives and one dead friend in the opening, in-your-face lines of this new novel from Soto (Snapshots from the Wedding, p. 228, etc.). In bleak sentences of whispered beauty, Eddie tells how he dropped out of vocational college and is attempting to get by with odd jobs. His aunt and friends want him to avenge the recent murder of his cousin, but Eddie just wants to find a way out. Everything he tries turns soura stint doing yard work ends when his boss's truck is stolen on Eddie's watchand life is a daily battle for survival. This unrelenting portrait is unsparing in squalid details: The glue sniffers, gangs, bums, casual knifings, filth, and stench are in the forefront of a life without much hope``Laundry wept from the lines, the faded flags of poor, ignorant, unemployable people.'' Soto plays the tale straightthe only sign of a ``happy'' ending is in Eddie's joining the Navy. The result is a sort of Fresno Salaam Bombay without the pockets of humanity that gave the original its charm. A valuable tale, it's one that makes no concessions. (glossary) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-15-201333-4

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1997

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WHAT THE MOON SAW

When Clara Luna, 14, visits rural Mexico for the summer to visit the paternal grandparents she has never met, she cannot know her trip will involve an emotional and spiritual journey into her family’s past and a deep connection to a rich heritage of which she was barely aware. Long estranged from his parents, Clara’s father had entered the U.S. illegally years before, subsequently becoming a successful business owner who never spoke about what he left behind. Clara’s journey into her grandmother’s history (told in alternating chapters with Clara’s own first-person narrative) and her discovery that she, like her grandmother and ancestors, has a gift for healing, awakens her to the simple, mystical joys of a rural lifestyle she comes to love and wholly embrace. Painfully aware of not fitting into suburban teen life in her native Maryland, Clara awakens to feeling alive in Mexico and realizes a sweet first love with Pedro, a charming goat herder. Beautifully written, this is filled with evocative language that is rich in imagery and nuance and speaks to the connections that bind us all. Add a thrilling adventure and all the makings of an entrancing read are here. (glossaries) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-73343-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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