An evocative, vignette-filled story of one family’s experiences up north.

READ REVIEW

WHERE THE MOOSE SLEPT

AN ACCOUNT OF TWO LATE-20TH CENTURY PIONEERS WHO "SAW THE ELEPHANT" ON THE LAST FRONTIER

From the Sleeping Moose Saga series , Vol. 1

Cutting (Tales from Sleeping Moose Vol. 4, 2015, etc.) recounts the adventures of a young couple settling in a remote part of Alaska in this episodic novel.

It’s the summer of 1976, and Kate Peters is a young artist from Hawaii. Inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s notions of self-reliance, she goes to Alaska for her honeymoon with her new husband, Tim, who’s inspired by Jack London’s writings. The two are planning to buy property in Vermont once they get back to the Lower 48, but when they pass a sign advertising land for sale near a tiny Alaskan hamlet, they make the impulsive decision to settle right there. High up on a mountainside, the property possesses “a panoramic view of the Chugach Range, Skilak Lake and the ice capped Kenai Fjords to the south.” Kate takes the presence of a recent moose bed as a sign—after all, the town below them is called Sleeping Moose—and decides to build their house right on that spot. The next three years will be a race against the weather—and impending parenthood—as Kate and Tim attempt to erect a cabin and then a house in the wilderness; meanwhile, they contend with local characters, local fauna, and the effects of isolation on the human spirit. This work of “fact-based fiction” is based on Cutting’s own family members’ experiences, and it includes black-and-white photographs of her parents and moments from her own childhood. She writes with an eye for specificity that evokes the Alaskan bush in all its daunting beauty. The difficulty of life in the area, particularly before the advent of cellphones and the internet, is illustrated in the planning and patience that Kate and Tim put into every action. In one sense, this is a book about a construction project, but in another, it’s the story of the formation of a family—one built not on self-reliance but on learning to rely on one another. Overall, it offers a satisfying mix of nature writing, a survival narrative, and a deliberative account of a task slowly completed.

An evocative, vignette-filled story of one family’s experiences up north.

Pub Date: April 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9975819-0-4

Page Count: -

Publisher: Echo Hill Arts Press, LLC

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 10

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE VANISHING HALF

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

Did you like this book?

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

more