A lively and optimistic alarm bell regarding the fractured state of the globe today.

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MAYA'S STORY

SLIPPING BETWEEN TIME AND SPACE

This debut YA fantasy sees a teen prepare to battle the ills of the world and the sinister force responsible.

Seventeen-year-old Vida fled oppressive Russia for the more colorful San Francisco in 1962. There, she worked hard in school and started a family, hoping to keep alive the Sisterhood, a line of Druidic Priestesses begun in ancient Alexandria. Today, Vida is High Priestess of the Sisterhood and realizes that a planet ravaged by global warming, famine, and war must be saved immediately. She starts training Maya, her 15-year-old granddaughter, three years early for the Sisterhood. Their mystical enemy is the Dark Menace that “stokes the fires that cause the atrocities that are increasing around the globe.” Ready to help Maya are the constellations watching from above, including Draco (Latin for dragon) and Monoceros (Greek for unicorn). Under Vida’s tutelage, Maya begins utilizing her heritage as an Indigo Child, practicing telekinesis and harnessing her ability to communicate with and transform into animals. The pair trains in the nearby forest, but Maya also learns to slip through adjacent realms to access sacred sites like Stonehenge, the Royal Library of Alexandria, and the temple of Queen Hatshepsut. But will Maya learn enough in time to halt the Dark Menace? In this mystically inclined novel, Story casts as wide a net as possible to round up the world’s troubles—including war in Syria and bees suffering colony collapse—for presentation to young audiences. Vida even quotes the Spider-Man comics when she asserts, “With great power comes great responsibilities.” While the bulk of Maya’s adventures take place in her mind, Story’s vibrant prose indeed slips between time and space; opening a casket in Queen Hatshepsut’s chamber reveals that “crystals glow from within, and the radiating colors bounce off the walls and ceiling in a riot of color that is almost disorienting.” Readers may need patience during the heroine’s extensive training, but once true danger arrives, it is followed quickly by horrific consequences. And though a vital Manifesto is delivered universally, humanity’s imperfection will require more from the Sisterhood.

A lively and optimistic alarm bell regarding the fractured state of the globe today.

Pub Date: April 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5426-6055-6

Page Count: 354

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2017

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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