A well-written, thoughtful portrayal of surviving hard times during World War II.



A boy and his family withstand the Nazi occupation of Denmark in this YA novel.

Morten Mors, 8, is worried in early 1940, but it’s not because of Denmark’s recent invasion by Germany. Morten’s dear, loyal Great Dane is at the end of her life and must be euthanized. Before long, though, Morten acquires a fox terrier puppy he names Snap. (Dog lovers: Snap will be fine; another dog is injured but OK.) As Morten tries to lead a normal life over the next few years—playing with his best friend, Bodil, training Snap—he discovers that members of his family are involved in the Resistance. They sometimes host fugitives; Inger, Morten’s older sister, works as a bicycle courier. Morten is made to promise he’ll serve only as a lookout, but he longs to fully contribute. In 1943, the underground network takes Bodil and her mother, who is Jewish, to safety, leaving Morten lonely. It’s a further blow when his father is rounded up with other Danish policemen and sent to a Nazi prison camp. The Mors house is commandeered by Germans, and Morten, his mother, and sister go to Jutland, near the North Sea, to live with his uncle and his wife. Meanwhile, the Resistance strengthens, and Morten discovers a way he can help that will test his courage and resourcefulness. Kamminga (The Sun Road, 2014) writes a well-observed story of a less-explored World War II experience: occupied Denmark. Unlike other, more harrowing accounts of children in hiding or in concentration camps, this tale focuses on Morten’s adaptability to changing circumstances and the Danish-ness of his life: for example, the king, on his daily ride, exchanges greetings as between equals with the postman. Kamminga makes the story’s episodes—learning about the procedures of the Resistance and sabotage, how to make arrows from elderberry whips, dog training—both interesting in themselves and contributory toward the boy’s coming-of-age. The book is also balanced; the chief bully in Morten’s life is a Jewish boy, and the Germans aren’t cartoon villains.

A well-written, thoughtful portrayal of surviving hard times during World War II.

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5255-1157-8

Page Count: 180

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2017

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...


Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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