A thrilling, sensitively conceived historical novel.



A Jewish Dutchman leaves his native Holland in advance of Nazi occupation for the United States and is drawn into a world of wartime espionage.

Anxious about Germany’s increasing belligerence and the infiltration of Dutch Parliament by Nazis, Hans Bernsteen procures two visas—one for himself and one for his sister, Esther—to flee Holland for New York. Esther refuses to leave, though, optimistic that there is little to fear, and Hans leaves without her. Despite being a polyglot and skilled photographer, Hans finds it impossible to find employment, which is largely denied to both foreigners and Jews. He leaves for Rochester to work at Eastman Kodak, but they are not allowed to hire “aliens.” Luckily, he then meets Greta, a German-American, at a Woolworth lunch counter. They fall in love, but her brothers are unrepentant admirers of Hitler, and they conspire to steal the plans for a new bombsight technology and deliver it into German hands. Hans feels duty-bound to report this to the FBI, which ropes him into spying on Greta and her family. He’s bullied into working as a film developer in Canada and then joins the American Army as a combat photographer. He’s pushed into counterintelligence work, where his superiors note his remarkable observational skills. He boards a Dutch ship headed to South Africa, which ends up in French New Caledonia, and uncovers an enemy intelligence-gathering operation. Meanwhile, Esther becomes pregnant, and her boyfriend leaves to join England’s Royal Air Force. She is sent to Bergen Belsen, where she struggles to survive. Author Hood (Off the Tracks: A Beatnik Family Journey, 2014) paints a vivid picture of war-torn Europe and the epistemological distance between those who see the inevitable and those who turn a blind eye to Nazi aggression. Her knowledge of the period’s politics is broad and her prose self-assured. The novel borrows from her father’s life, and her loving attention to her protagonist, beautifully drawn, is evident throughout. Hans is a complex figure, patriotic but conflicted, unsure where his loyalties should lie.

A thrilling, sensitively conceived historical novel.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9993946-1-8

Page Count: -

Publisher: Waves Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2017

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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