A poignant and sophisticated work couched in lyrical, effervescent prose.

THE PATHLESS SKY

Reeling from personal tragedy, a young couple struggles to navigate political violence in their unnamed homeland and rebuild their marriage.

“It mattered to him that he woke up alone,” Sen's debut novel begins. John is upset and angry to find his wife, Mariam, once again asleep on the floor of the empty nursery that was supposed to house their stillborn baby daughter. Mariam’s ongoing pain is, to John, a personal affront that is splitting their marriage apart. But when the militia storms their workplace and Mariam is kidnapped, John’s only concern is for her safety. This present-day drama then flashes back to the story of young John and Mariam at university—their chance meeting on a bridge, growing connection, and John’s regretted detour into a relationship with Mariam’s friend Nina. Mariam and John soon marry and move back to his hometown. Life for the newlyweds moves along smoothly as John finishes his dissertation and advances in his career—complicated only by the denial of Mariam’s passport in the middle of the growing violence of the military state. Desperate to travel overseas, John decides to purchase forged papers for the family. But the loss of their newborn baby devastates Mariam; John, feeling abandoned, begins to think he and Mariam should separate. Here, the novel's past catches up to the present and jumps back into the story of Mariam's disappearance. This debut novel is a searingly vivid portrayal of the depths of human emotions—from the first glow of young love to the deeper strength of middle-aged commitment. Although the flashback structure—in which the bulk of the novel occurs in the past—leaves the reader hungry for the present-tense storyline of Mariam’s kidnapping, this device does create a suspenseful mystery which haunts the narrative.

A poignant and sophisticated work couched in lyrical, effervescent prose.

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60945-291-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Europa Editions

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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