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THE RETURN OF HALF-SOMETHING

A protagonist of conviction braves discrimination and a potentially dangerous corporation.

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A New Yorker of mixed heritage believes his destiny lies in his African ancestral homeland in this dramatic novel.

In 1993, 17-year-old Emmanuel’s father, Uchechi, tells him that his destiny awaits him in the African kingdom of Umuati. Uchechi believes his American son will somehow need to help Umuati battle injustice and oppression and that failure to do so will curse Emmanuel. A decade later, Emmanuel resides in Manhattan with a Ph.D. from Columbia Law School but still hasn’t visited Umuati. He falls for Rebecca Levitt, who’s vice president at her father Reuben’s brokerage firm, Peak Management Group. Emmanuel even takes a job at the firm to get close to Rebecca. But Reuben disapproves of their inevitable romance, primarily because Emmanuel, who’s biracial, isn’t Jewish like the Levitts. Emmanuel fights for the chance to marry Rebecca and, soon after, finds a way he can assist Umuati. An oil-field explosion there has resulted in fatalities and a devastating oil spill. Emmanuel calls Umuati’s regent and offers, pro bono, to file a lawsuit against the company responsible, Sooli Oil. This entails finally traveling to Umuati, where Emmanuel surprisingly faces some resistance. After the evidence he has gathered inexplicably vanishes, Emmanuel and others learn there may be a spy working for Sooli, which ultimately leads to murder and a kidnapping. But it’s the opportunity to move to Umuati that presents Emmanuel with his greatest challenge, as Rebecca’s refusal to leave her U.S. home may threaten their prospective future together. Emmanuel’s convincing motivations propel Eze’s (Leadership Stories of Mother Hen, 2012, etc.) engrossing, character-driven story. For example, destiny plays a large role in the protagonist’s decisions, be it pursuing Rebecca or coming to the aid of Umuati. This stems from Uchechi’s forecasting his son’s fate and possible curse; just days later, Emmanuel tragically lost both parents in a storm-related boating accident. Similarly, he has thrived academically in spite of the discrimination he faced from school bullies calling him half-breed or “merboy” (half fish, half boy). Emmanuel later overcomes adversaries in Umuati who see him as an outcast. He has an Umuati name, Nkemefuna, and knows the language but is unfamiliar with the culture. The first third of the novel centers on Emmanuel’s growing relationship with Rebecca. It’s a rewarding subplot, though some of his behavior is more obsessive than romantic. For instance, when she seems reluctant to further the relationship, Emmanuel asks his cousin Anna to befriend Rebecca. He’s certain that the friendship will help him win Rebecca. Regardless, his sweet words to her are often charming: “If I ever live this life again, let it always be with you, my love.” The plot shift to the lawsuit adds tension and suspense. Individuals opposing the suit put Emmanuel in unmistakable peril, but the courtroom scenes are intense as well, as the protagonist fights a multibillion-dollar company. Female characters are strong, particularly Anna, who, in a flashback, doesn’t hesitate to warn a sexist, racist biker against calling her a “bitch.”

A protagonist of conviction braves discrimination and a potentially dangerous corporation.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 304

Publisher: SEVHAGE

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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IT ENDS WITH US

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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DEVOLUTION

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z(2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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