In this dark and bizarre satire, Dumanis proposes a world in which hyperreligious fervor shields and empowers the truly...

MONA LIEBOWITZ

AN ARTLESS NOVEL

The future Big Split between the Northern and Southern United States leads to religious demagogy and the right-wing political delirium that provides the backdrop for Dumanis’ novel.

Never really wanted by her mother and sexually abused by her father, Mona Liebowitz wants to create an art project that spans the nation, a futile dream in the New American Republic, where art has been decried as a distraction from God and subsequently banned. Painting lands Mona in juvenile hall. In an attempt to assert herself, she composes a mural under the cover of night and gets locked in solitary confinement. While imprisoned, she is granted a wish by a magical “wee person” who ends the conversation by shooting off into oblivion. Then things get weird. Through plot-driven mayhem, Mona finds herself on the lam, disfigured and starting a religion before she meets her ultimate fate. Throughout the book, Dumanis’ strong satirical voice blasts the hypocrisy of those who don’t practice what they preach. Evil deeds, such as Mona being locked in boxlike confines and later being assaulted, all occur at the hands of the self-assured authoritarians, while images of Jesus look on. If the plot and dialogue weren’t enough to grasp the author’s intentions, there are the lists and lists of hybridized nouns: Girl Scouts have become God Scouts. An amusement park is called Godland (complete with David and Goliath fights on the hour and a ride named The Slide to Hell). Then you’ve got your Freedom objects: Freedom Net, Freedom Phone and the satisfyingly oxymoronic Freedom Locks. Although the author’s points are made clearly, they lack the subtle delivery that could send the reader on an actual journey. Instead, hyperbole and breakneck pace reign while the plot vacillates from amusing to sickening and then abruptly ends.

In this dark and bizarre satire, Dumanis proposes a world in which hyperreligious fervor shields and empowers the truly demented while destroying individualism and artistic expression.

Pub Date: July 26, 2012

ISBN: 978-0615644486

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Slavin, Joseph and Sons

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2012

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A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

BROTHERS IN ARMS

BLUFORD HIGH SERIES #9

In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.

In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 978-1591940173

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Townsend Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

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A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Mary's Song

From the Dream Horse Adventure Series series , Vol. 1

A novel tells the story of two spirited girls who set out to save a lame foal in 1952.

Mary, age 12, lacks muscle control of her legs and must use a wheelchair. Her life is constantly interrupted by trips with her widower father to assorted doctors, all of whom have failed to help her. Mary tolerates the treatments, hoping to one day walk unassisted, but her true passion involves horses. Possessing a library filled with horse books, she loves watching and drawing the animals at a neighboring farm. She longs to own one herself. But her father, overprotective due to her disability and his own lingering grief over Mary’s dead mother, makes her keep her distance. Mary befriends Laura, the emotionally neglected daughter of the wealthy neighboring farm owners, and the two share secret buggy rides. Both girls are attracted to Illusion, a beautiful red bay filly on the farm. Mary learns that Illusion is to be put down by a veterinarian because of a lame leg. Horrified, she decides to talk to the barn manager about the horse (“Isn’t it okay for her to live even if she’s not perfect? I think she deserves a chance”). Soon, Mary and Laura attempt to raise money to save Illusion. At the same time, Mary begins to gain control of her legs thanks to water therapy and secret therapeutic riding with Laura. There is indeed a great deal of poignancy in a story of a girl with a disability fighting to defend the intrinsic value of a lame animal. But this book, the first installment of the Dream Horse Adventure Series, would be twice as touching if Mary interacted with Illusion more. In the tale’s opening, she watches the foal from afar, but she actually spends very little time with the filly she tries so hard to protect. This turns out to be a strange development given the degree to which the narrative relies on her devotion. Count (Selah’s Sweet Dream, 2015) draws Mary and Laura in broad but believable strokes, defined mainly by their unrelenting pluckiness in the face of adversity. While the work tackles disability, death, and grief, Mary’s and Laura’s environments are so idyllic and their optimism and perseverance so remarkable that the story retains an aura of uncomplicated gentleness throughout.

A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

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