by Ellen Meeropol ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 7, 2020
A sprawling novel, uneven and overlong yet moving at times.
Two devoted sisters become estranged after an incident at a Vietnam protest march in 1968.
Raised by activist parents in Detroit, Rosa and Esther are committed to the anti-war cause. Rosa—fierce, headstrong, and unforgiving—has always exerted a strong pull on her quiet, more pliant younger sister. At the march, in a tear-gas haze, the sisters attack a row of baton-wielding mounted cops, with tragic, unforeseeable consequences. Rosa eventually goes to jail. Esther, the mother of a 5-month-old child, accepts a plea bargain and testifies at her sister’s trials. The novel follows the two women for several decades, charting the fallout from their painful rift and the different paths they choose. Author Meeropol (Kinship of Clover, 2017, etc.) is married to the younger son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, executed in 1953 for passing atomic secrets to the Soviets. Ethel’s brother, David Greenglass, a fellow spy, delivered strong testimony against the couple in court—suggesting a whiff of similarity between the Rosenberg saga and this novel. But Greenglass later admitted to lying on the stand; Esther, while denounced by her sister, is basically telling the truth. In any case, the book seems more concerned with the toll of political activism on families than with the aftereffects of true treachery. Though the end of the novel is never in serious doubt, it takes a while to get there. There are unlikely plot turns (Rosa’s second pregnancy) and a number of awkward moments (the daughters of the two sisters meet for the first time, not quite by accident). Still, the author writes knowingly about left-wing politics from the vantage point of an insider, and she also writes poignant domestic scenes.A sprawling novel, uneven and overlong yet moving at times.
Pub Date: April 7, 2020
Page Count: 296
Publisher: Red Hen Press
Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020
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by Kristin Hannah ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 3, 2015
Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.
Hannah’s new novel is an homage to the extraordinary courage and endurance of Frenchwomen during World War II.
In 1995, an elderly unnamed widow is moving into an Oregon nursing home on the urging of her controlling son, Julien, a surgeon. This trajectory is interrupted when she receives an invitation to return to France to attend a ceremony honoring passeurs: people who aided the escape of others during the war. Cut to spring, 1940: Viann has said goodbye to husband Antoine, who's off to hold the Maginot line against invading Germans. She returns to tending her small farm, Le Jardin, in the Loire Valley, teaching at the local school and coping with daughter Sophie’s adolescent rebellion. Soon, that world is upended: The Germans march into Paris and refugees flee south, overrunning Viann’s land. Her long-estranged younger sister, Isabelle, who has been kicked out of multiple convent schools, is sent to Le Jardin by Julien, their father in Paris, a drunken, decidedly unpaternal Great War veteran. As the depredations increase in the occupied zone—food rationing, systematic looting, and the billeting of a German officer, Capt. Beck, at Le Jardin—Isabelle’s outspokenness is a liability. She joins the Resistance, volunteering for dangerous duty: shepherding downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain. Code-named the Nightingale, Isabelle will rescue many before she's captured. Meanwhile, Viann’s journey from passive to active resistance is less dramatic but no less wrenching. Hannah vividly demonstrates how the Nazis, through starvation, intimidation and barbarity both casual and calculated, demoralized the French, engineering a community collapse that enabled the deportations and deaths of more than 70,000 Jews. Hannah’s proven storytelling skills are ideally suited to depicting such cataclysmic events, but her tendency to sentimentalize undermines the gravitas of this tale.Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.
Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015
Page Count: 448
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014
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by Colleen Hoover ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 18, 2014
Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson.
Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty.Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.
Pub Date: March 18, 2014
Page Count: 384
Review Posted Online: May 6, 2014
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