A thoughtful, philosophically rich story that probes a still-open wound.
An exile returns home to a land still torn apart by civil war 25 years afterward.
Think The Big Chill in Beirut with some of the sex but little of the lightheartedness in Jeune Afrique editor-in-chief Maalouf’s charged novel. Adam, whose name, he records in his overflowing notebooks, “encompasses all of nascent humanity, yet I belong to a humanity that is dying,” receives a phone call in Paris, where he has been living since leaving his native Lebanon in a time of conflict. His friend Mourad lies dying, Mourad’s wife tells Adam, and wants to see him before he dies. Adam is reluctant: We haven’t spoken for years, he protests. Nonetheless, he travels home to a place he barely recognizes. Just what drove the two friends apart emerges slowly, and as friends gather to commemorate Mourad’s passing, they wistfully remember a time when, as Adam recalls, “My friends belonged to all denominations and each made it a duty, a point of pride, to mock his own—and then, gently, those of the others.” The gentleness is long past, as an Arab jihadi pointedly tells Adam. For his part, Adam, a historian who is years overdue delivering a commissioned biography of Attila, admits to knowing more about Caesar and Hannibal than about his own circle. He begins to chase down the details of their lives—but, as his partner in Paris chides, “I know you, Adam. You’ll fill hundreds of pages with stories of your friends, but it will all end up mouldering in a drawer.” Those stories are inevitably ones of dreams dashed and new realities substituted for them: a woman with whom he has a fitful affair wanted to become a surgeon but instead winds up as what Adam calls a “chatelaine,” that is, a hotel manager; another, a man of the world, withdraws to a monastery; a third, whose “long curly hair was more white than gray” now, has moved across the world to Brazil; and so on. None is particularly happy—and the story, fittingly, ends on a tragic, uncertain note.A thoughtful, philosophically rich story that probes a still-open wound.
Pub Date: May 12, 2020
Page Count: 522
Publisher: World Editions
Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020
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by Colleen Hoover ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 18, 2014
Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson.
Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty.Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.
Pub Date: March 18, 2014
Page Count: 384
Review Posted Online: May 6, 2014
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by Kristin Hannah ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 3, 2015
Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.
Hannah’s new novel is an homage to the extraordinary courage and endurance of Frenchwomen during World War II.
In 1995, an elderly unnamed widow is moving into an Oregon nursing home on the urging of her controlling son, Julien, a surgeon. This trajectory is interrupted when she receives an invitation to return to France to attend a ceremony honoring passeurs: people who aided the escape of others during the war. Cut to spring, 1940: Viann has said goodbye to husband Antoine, who's off to hold the Maginot line against invading Germans. She returns to tending her small farm, Le Jardin, in the Loire Valley, teaching at the local school and coping with daughter Sophie’s adolescent rebellion. Soon, that world is upended: The Germans march into Paris and refugees flee south, overrunning Viann’s land. Her long-estranged younger sister, Isabelle, who has been kicked out of multiple convent schools, is sent to Le Jardin by Julien, their father in Paris, a drunken, decidedly unpaternal Great War veteran. As the depredations increase in the occupied zone—food rationing, systematic looting, and the billeting of a German officer, Capt. Beck, at Le Jardin—Isabelle’s outspokenness is a liability. She joins the Resistance, volunteering for dangerous duty: shepherding downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain. Code-named the Nightingale, Isabelle will rescue many before she's captured. Meanwhile, Viann’s journey from passive to active resistance is less dramatic but no less wrenching. Hannah vividly demonstrates how the Nazis, through starvation, intimidation and barbarity both casual and calculated, demoralized the French, engineering a community collapse that enabled the deportations and deaths of more than 70,000 Jews. Hannah’s proven storytelling skills are ideally suited to depicting such cataclysmic events, but her tendency to sentimentalize undermines the gravitas of this tale.Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.
Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015
Page Count: 448
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014
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