A historical novel about a strong-willed Puritan woman (based on real-life Anne Needham Hett) present at the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
At the beginning of Kern’s (Wanting to be Jackie Kennedy, 2011) novel, Mercy Goodhue may be only 14 years old, but when she sees her father, a shipwright, examining the family’s financial ledgers, she recognizes the seriousness of his worried expression. In the 1629 town of Boston in Lincolnshire, England, a letter arrives from “lawyer and manor lord” John Winthrop, offering the family a chance to join his chartered voyage to the strange new world of Massachusetts. Mercy’s parents choose to see it as a gift of fortune, a chance to start their lives over and perhaps make their fortune. After the long sea crossing, they and the other settlers draw up off the coast of Nova Scotia as they prepare to make the final journey to the land they will call New England, with Mercy and her family among the group assembled to hear Winthrop, now governor, give his famous “city upon a hill” speech, urging the Pilgrims to undertake their mission in a spirit of fellowship. With patient care and thorough research, Kern takes readers through the founding days of the new city of Boston on what was then called the Shawmut Peninsula, from the earliest struggles for food and shelter to the town’s slow prospering in the face of hardships. “Outside our doors we know not what spirits, animals, or Indians lurk in the darkness, their appetites primed to devour us,” Mercy writes to a friend back in England. “At night the wolves howl wildly and the wind whistles through the cracks in our walls.” As time passes, Mercy grudgingly comes to like the imperious midwife Goody Hammer (one of the book’s most memorable characters) and to love young Joshua Hoyt, who becomes her husband. More immigrants arrive from England, including Anne Hutchinson, later famously tried for heresy and banished from the colony, and Kern renders it all—the seasons, the clothing, the food, the mental preoccupations, the shaping of society—with solid pacing and in pleasing detail.
A winning novel of ordinary people in an extraordinary new world.
A highly organized, informative discussion of the immigration system in the United States.
In this politically charged environment, Afrasiabi manages to broach the volatile issue of immigration in a well-rounded, surprisingly effective framework that combines case studies, historical research, statistical analysis and personal anecdotes to detail the current issues and propose solutions. Invocations of Kafka, “The Twilight Zone” and “Alice in Wonderland” prove warranted as illustrations of the often surreal circumstances that confront immigrants facing deportation. Immigrants usually lack access to quality legal representation, while their situation can be made doubly difficult due to language barriers and significant cultural differences. Afrasiabi incorporates his work with colleagues and students at the Chapman University School of Law to deftly weave together the facts of several compelling cases and their underlying legal issues, with a genuine sense of suspense as readers wonder if justice will be truly be served. Occasionally, though, the narrative becomes overwrought—two federal laws passed in 1996 are “dark storm clouds depositing their sleet”—although, considering the life-changing effects of court decisions, it’s difficult to overstate the ramifications: extralegal rendition of individuals with pending cases and the de facto deportation of native-born children whose parents are deported. Afrasiabi also addresses the legacy of various anti-alien laws in California, as well as marriage equality for same-sex couples when one partner is a noncitizen. As the subtitle asserts, Afrasiabi employs his additional experience in the field of property law to contrast the stark differences between immigration judges and constitutional judges, like their qualifications, vetting processes and even the oaths they take. His arguments culminate in seven concrete reforms proposed in the conclusion. In order to make the immigration system more just and effective, Afrasiabi claims the solutions are closer than we may think; we can implement procedures and safeguards already in place within the constitutional courts.
A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.
Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.
Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.
Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.