Provocative, disturbing group of novellas that humanize international problems of violence and the plight of refugees.



A collection of three disquieting novellas featuring young women seeking better lives, from prolific Venezuelan-Danish author Tarazona (Daggryets Barn, 2014).

In the first novella, 29-year-old Saja, a well-educated, formerly well-off Sri Lankan, finally accepts that her political prisoner husband is dead. She seeks asylum in Denmark, but her life at the refugee camp there is troublesome. Forced to deal with racism, jealousy and would-be rapists, Saja finally receives word her application has been approved by the Danish Immigration Service. Building a new life for herself, she becomes involved with Peter, an immigration employee who is fired due to their relationship—a minor hurdle as they work toward a future together. In the second story, young Yonna’s entire Wayuu family is massacred by a rival clan. After her captor rapists tire of her, she finds a degree of safety weaving for a tradeswoman in Maracaibo. She is rescued by Dorothea “Thea” Weiss, a German expatriate. They form a close bond, and newly confident Yonna meets Daniel, a Danish engineer working in Venezuela. The two embark on a romantic adventure, uncertain what the future will bring. In the third story, Taraji, the least sympathetic of the young women affected by violence, was adopted from South Africa by a Danish couple, Jacob and Liva. When teenage Taraji begins asking questions about her birth parents, she misinterprets Liva’s reticence as insecurity rather than protective instinct; Liva doesn’t wish Taraji to know that her conception resulted from a violent rape. Despite her loving parents and stable boyfriend, Taraji embarks on self-destructive behavior. While the stories have an optimistic tone, the voyages in all three are painful ones. Saja and Yonna both exhibit great strength of character and highly developed principles; Taraji shows willfulness and selfishness. Saja’s story is perhaps the most affecting as the reader witnesses the disbelief of Danish authorities that she could be an educated, intelligent young woman; they see only a destitute woman who must be lying about her past. Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the stories is that all three are set in the recent past—1990s through the present—a time that, we’d like to think, should be more enlightened.

Provocative, disturbing group of novellas that humanize international problems of violence and the plight of refugees.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-8799737949

Page Count: 324

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


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?

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

Did you like this book?