Thoughtful and lively story from a husband-wife team who blend two distinctive voices into a seamless, satisfying whole.

IN LOVE AND WAR

Another contemporary romance from the authors of Love Don’t Live Here Anymore (2002), etc.

Kenneth Roman doesn’t know quite what to say to a beautiful single mother who doesn’t want to listen. As a teacher and coach at a Teaneck high school, he’s seen a lot of kids get into serious trouble, and Zaria Chance’s son James may be headed in the wrong direction. He’s only trying to do the right thing by telling her about James’s difficulties—but, damn, talk about ingratitude. As far as Zaria can see, Mr. Roman has her pegged as a welfare queen from the ’hood, even though Zaria’s been raising her James and Jasmine alone ever since their no-account daddy disappeared, and she just so happens to make $60,000 a year as a university financial officer. If he doesn’t believe her, he can go and ask Principal Bell, a strong black woman herself, who won’t take kindly to any man questioning a black woman’s mothering. Sure, the principal’s seen plenty of triflin’ heffas who never should’ve had kids come and go, but Zaria isn’t one of them. Kenneth has to agree, to his chagrin, as he finds out more about Zaria and her family. Maybe his guilty secret is getting in the way of his better judgment: his own daughter Lane doesn’t live with him, and he’s not as a good a father to her as he wants to be. There aren’t enough hours in a day to do his job, get some exercise, keep up with family and friends, and maintain a social life—though there’s no one special in his life right now, besides Antoinette, who likes to show up every so often in nothing but a gold lamé raincoat. Zaria doesn’t have a man and doesn’t want one—but Kenneth Roman keeps coming around and she’s beginning to like him . . . .

Thoughtful and lively story from a husband-wife team who blend two distinctive voices into a seamless, satisfying whole.

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2003

ISBN: 0-525-94709-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2002

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Romance and melodrama mix uneasily with mass murder.

THE WINTER GUEST

An 18-year-old Polish girl falls in love, swoons over a first kiss, dreams of marriage—and, oh yes, we are in the middle of the Holocaust.

Jenoff (The Ambassador’s Daughter, 2013, etc.) weaves a tale of fevered teenage love in a time of horrors in the early 1940s, as the Nazis invade Poland and herd Jews into ghettos and concentration camps. A prologue set in 2013, narrated by a resident of the Westchester Senior Center, provides an intriguing setup. A woman and a policeman visit the resident and ask if she came from a small Polish village. Their purpose is unclear until they mention bones recently found there: “And we think you might know something about them.” The book proceeds in the third person, told from the points of view mostly of teenage Helena, who comes upon an injured young Jewish-American soldier, and sometimes of her twin, Ruth, who is not as adventurous as Helena but is very competitive with her. Their father is dead, their mother is dying in a hospital, and they are raising their three younger siblings amid danger and hardship. The romance between Helena and Sam, the soldier, is often conveyed in overheated language that doesn’t sit well with the era’s tragic events: “There had been an intensity to his embrace that said he was barely able to contain himself, that he also wanted more.” Jenoff, clearly on the side of tolerance, slips in a simplified historical framework for the uninformed. But she also feeds stereotypes, having Helena note that Sam has “a slight arch to his nose” and a dark complexion that “would make him suspect as a Jew immediately.” Clichés also pop up during the increasingly complex plot: “But even if they stood in place, the world around them would not.”

Romance and melodrama mix uneasily with mass murder.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7783-1596-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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This book sings with the terrible silence of dead civilizations in which once there was valor.

THINGS FALL APART

Written with quiet dignity that builds to a climax of tragic force, this book about the dissolution of an African tribe, its traditions, and values, represents a welcome departure from the familiar "Me, white brother" genre.

Written by a Nigerian African trained in missionary schools, this novel tells quietly the story of a brave man, Okonkwo, whose life has absolute validity in terms of his culture, and who exercises his prerogative as a warrior, father, and husband with unflinching single mindedness. But into the complex Nigerian village filters the teachings of strangers, teachings so alien to the tribe, that resistance is impossible. One must distinguish a force to be able to oppose it, and to most, the talk of Christian salvation is no more than the babbling of incoherent children. Still, with his guns and persistence, the white man, amoeba-like, gradually absorbs the native culture and in despair, Okonkwo, unable to withstand the corrosion of what he, alone, understands to be the life force of his people, hangs himself. In the formlessness of the dying culture, it is the missionary who takes note of the event, reminding himself to give Okonkwo's gesture a line or two in his work, The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger.

This book sings with the terrible silence of dead civilizations in which once there was valor.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 1958

ISBN: 0385474547

Page Count: 207

Publisher: McDowell, Obolensky

Review Posted Online: April 23, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1958

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