The Tears of the Caterpillars

This debut novella and religious self-help book aims to help readers rediscover themselves through the stories of two families and the teachings of the Bible.

Rudecindo uses her skills as a storyteller to help guide readers to self-discovery and happiness. She details the trajectories of two fictional families, each hindered by societal prejudices. Laura comes from a wealthy clan; her father is a successful, powerful, and well-respected figure in their rural community. When he decides that she and her siblings need a formal education in order to excel, they move to the city. Although they’re  initially excited, they’re soon burdened by their new community’s racism and classism. People mock their dark skin and say they have “ugly” noses, and the family members internalize deep feelings of hurt, thus becoming hardened, negative, and unhappy; Rudecindo explains that they each “had their own ‘crosses’ to bear.” Another family is wealthy and lives in the city. Some locals ridicule their disfigured son, Hector, who becomes the neighborhood bully after he’s alienated by the other children. He bullies Laura and her family, calling them “hillbillies.” Later, Laura moves to America, finds hope in the Christian faith, and goes back to her homeland to spread the Word of the Bible. Although she’s wary of how her family and community will react, she’s driven by her newfound religious inspiration. Rudecindo says that as readers follow the stories of her characters, “they will relate to one of them and learn from their journey the true path to happiness in spite of the circumstances in the world around them.” Although her book will likely resonate more deeply with a Christian audience, as its message is driven by biblical teachings, any reader may appreciate this inspiring narrative of overcoming prejudice. Its uplifting prose addresses how to deal with problems such as identity crises, negative thoughts, internalized feelings of inferiority, and desperation in the face of perceived failure. At the end, Rudecindo offers a helpful interactive section in which readers may write out their reflections on the characters and compare their problems and healing processes to their own. A useful, quick read, recommended for those who want to connect more deeply with religious lessons and apply helpful prayer techniques to their own lives. 

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4984-1815-7

Page Count: 106

Publisher: Xulon Press

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2016

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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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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.


High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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