This delicate elegy for a dying way of life crescendos into a love song binding family members across the waters.

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OUR HOMESICK SONGS

The fish have disappeared from Big Running, Newfoundland, leaving the town deserted and the Connor family desperate. Can young Finn and Cora take matters into their own hands and bring the scattered villagers home?

Big Running has always been a small, close-knit community, dependent on the fishing industry. With resources dwindling fast, Martha and Aidan Connor hope to stave off the inevitable move off the island by sharing a job on Canada’s mainland, taking turns working and staying home with their children. Finn and Cora turn to the island itself, hoping to preserve its magic. Still carefully following the rules for checking out books from the abandoned library, Cora devours travel guides and scavenges materials to create a series of oases within the abandoned houses. Gifts for her little brother, the houses—bearing exuberant names and exclamation points borrowed from the travel guides—become Mexico! England! The Philippines! But then Cora leaves, too, and Finn concocts a fantastical plan to lure the fish (and Cora) back to the island—a plan that builds upon the tall tales told to him by his accordion teacher and requires repurposing items left behind in the abandoned homes. Hooper (Etta and Otto and Russell and James, 2015) elegantly weaves into Finn and Cora’s story the magical tale of their parents’ courtship. Martha lost her parents to the icy waters. Aidan, too, lost his father early, because, as he has been told his whole life, all Connors are cheats. Rowing out each night, he sang his grief into the wind, and his voice carried across the water to Martha, who heard the voice of a mermaid in it. Can one of their plans save the Connors’ strained marriage, find Cora, and reunite the community?

This delicate elegy for a dying way of life crescendos into a love song binding family members across the waters.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2448-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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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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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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