A thoughtful, moving meditation on connections to the past and the land that humans abandon at their peril.

THE SEED KEEPER

A Native American woman reclaims her family and her people’s history in Dakhóta writer Wilson’s first novel.

A keening poem, “The Seeds Speak,” sets the novel’s tone in its opening pages, recalling a time when “Because we cared for each other, the People and the Seeds survived” and lamenting the “drought of memory, a time of endless darkness”  that followed. Rosalie Iron Wing’s story is emblematic of the deliberate destruction of Native American families and traditions by the U.S. government. Raised by her father, at age 12 she was placed in White foster care after he died and endured six years of misery “waiting for someone to come for me.” (She doesn't know that her great-aunt fruitlessly tried to find her.) At 18, she marries John Meister, a kind White farmer grappling with the changes introduced by chemical fertilizers and the new genetically modified seeds being pushed by a company building a plant in town. (John, a good man who is nonetheless clueless about how his family’s fortunes were built on the theft of Native lands, is notable in a cast of strong secondary characters that also includes Rosalie’s feisty activist friend Gaby Makespeace.) As the novel opens in 2002, John has recently died, most likely poisoned by the chemicals their son, Tommy, encouraged him to use on their fields. Tommy’s conflict between his Native heritage and modern “progress” seethes under the surface of Rosalie’s journey back to the cabin along the Minnesota River from which she was taken 28 years earlier. Her memories unfold in conjunction with the stories of her great-aunt Darlene, about the tragic history of the Dakhóta. Uprooted from their land, the seeds Dakhóta women carried with them were not just a source of sustenance, but their link to the past and hope for the future, a symbol of their profound bond with the Earth. They provide a powerful symbol for Rosalie’s rediscovery of her lost family and the ways of “the old ones.”

A thoughtful, moving meditation on connections to the past and the land that humans abandon at their peril.

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-57131-137-5

Page Count: -

Publisher: Milkweed

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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