A gripping family story for those strong enough for the emotional journey.

THE MOONSTONERS

From the Moon Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A novel presents a tale of tormented and damaged characters against the backdrop of the turbulent 1960s.

The story revolves—no, churns—around Noël Trudeau, whom readers first meet as a youngster while her family is fleeing north from Hyssop, Louisiana, in the dead of night. Something truly horrible has happened, something that will remain secret for some 200 pages (this is a book of secrets). Then readers find Noël in Langston, Indiana, where she and her toddler son, Adam, have escaped a marriage to a brutal abuser and where young Ricky Ziemny is hopelessly in love with her. She begins timorously to allow the possibility of romance, but it is Ricky’s brother, Leon, whom she falls in love with and marries. The union is tempestuous: The Trudeaus are leery of Leon, the Ziemnys of Noël. Meanwhile—these are just the high (or low) points—her oldest brother is killed in Vietnam and her younger brother, Adam, who dreamed of becoming a surgeon, returns minus an arm. There are suicides, a mental breakdown, and screaming confrontations (especially as the long-held secrets come spilling out). An apothegm from Pascal sets the tone: “When one does not love too much, one does not love enough.” This sets the stage for Noël’s final musing on two kinds of love: “The love you could live with, and the love you couldn’t live without.” Given these truths, the characters are whipsawed big-time. Dzikowski (Searching for Lincoln’s Ghost, 2011) is a passionate writer and her background in counseling has likely contributed much to her prose and outlook. But one needn’t be a Pollyanna to sometimes shout: “Enough already! Enough trauma, enough heartbreak!” On the other hand, one cannot deny the real power of the book. Readers will be drawn into caring deeply about these terribly tortured characters and bracing for the next inevitable tragic turn. This is the first volume of a trilogy; may the sequels bring a measure of relief.

A gripping family story for those strong enough for the emotional journey.

Pub Date: July 20, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9840305-3-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wiara Books

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2019

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Works beautifully for so long as Susie simply tells the truth, then falters when the author goes for bigger truths about...

THE LOVELY BONES

An extraordinary, almost-successful debut that treats sensational material with literary grace, narrated from heaven by the victim of a serial killer and pedophile.

“My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.” These opening lines in Susie’s thoroughly engaging voice show the same unblinking and straightforward charm that characterized Sebold’s acclaimed memoir, Lucky (2002)—the true story of the author’s surviving a brutal rape when she was a college freshman. Now, the fictional Susie recounts her own rape and—less lucky than the author—murder in a Pennsylvania suburb at the hands of a neighbor. Susie’s voice is in exquisite control when describing the intensity and complexity of her family’s grief, her longing for Ray Singh—the first and only boy to kiss her—and the effect her death has on Ruth, the lonely outsider whose body her soul happened to brush while rising up to a personal, whimsical, yet utterly convincing heaven. Rapt delight in the story begins to fade, though, as the narrative moves farther away in time from Susie’s death and grows occasionally forced or superficial as Susie watches what happens over the next decade to everyone she knew on earth, including her killer. By the time Susie’s soul enters Ruth’s body long enough to make love to Ray, the author’s ability to convince the reader has flagged. The closing third forces its way toward affirmative closure, and even the language changes tone: “The events that my death wrought were merely the bones of a body that would become whole at some unpredictable time in the future.”

Works beautifully for so long as Susie simply tells the truth, then falters when the author goes for bigger truths about Love and Life. Still, mostly mesmerizing and deserving of the attention it’s sure to receive.

Pub Date: July 3, 2002

ISBN: 0-316-66634-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2002

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In part a perfectly paced mystery story, in part an Indian Wuthering Heights: a gorgeous and seductive fever dream of a...

THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS

A brilliantly constructed first novel that untangles an intricate web of sexual and caste conflict in a vivid style reminiscent of Salman Rushdie's early work.

The major characters are Estha and Rahel, the fraternal twin son and daughter of a wealthy family living in the province of Kerala. The family's prosperity is derived from a pickle factory and rubber estate, and their prideful Anglophilia essentially estranges them from their country's drift toward Communism and their ``inferiors' '' hunger for independence and equality. The events of a crucial December day in 1969—including an accidental death that may have been no accident and the violent consequences that afflict an illicit couple who have broken "the Love Law''—are the moral and narrative center around which the episodes of the novel repeatedly circle. Shifting backward and forward in time with effortless grace, Roy fashions a compelling nexus of personalities that influence the twins' "eerie stealth'' and furtive interdependence. These include their beautiful and mysteriously remote mother Ammu; her battling "Mammachi'' (who runs the pickle factory) and "Pappachi'' (an insufficiently renowned entomologist); their Oxford-educated Marxist Uncle Chacko and their wily "grandaunt'' Baby Kochamma; and the volatile laborite "Untouchable'' Velutha, whose relationship with the twins' family will prove his undoing. Roy conveys their explosive commingling in a vigorous prose dominated by odd syntactical and verbal combinations and coinages (a bad dream experience during midday nap-time is an "aftermare'') reminiscent of Gerard Manly Hopkins's "sprung rhythm,'' incantatory repetitions, striking metaphors (Velutha is seen ``standing in the shade of the rubber trees with coins of sunshine dancing on his body'') and sensuous descriptive passages (``The sky was orange, and the coconut trees were sea anemones waving their tentacles, hoping to trap and eat an unsuspecting cloud'').

In part a perfectly paced mystery story, in part an Indian Wuthering Heights: a gorgeous and seductive fever dream of a novel, and a truly spectacular debut. (First serial to Granta)

Pub Date: May 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-679-45731-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1997

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