A richly rewarding look at an era.

HALLEY

A Depression-era novel is defined by the hard-edged beauty of its rural Southern setting. 

When 14-year-old Halley’s father dies, in 1936, her mother capitulates to the demands of her own father, a strict Southern Baptist preacher, that the family move back home. Pa and Ma Franklin live in a farmhouse much like the one Halley leaves, only without the soft comforts—chief among them her brother Robbie’s piano—Daddy had provided. Halley’s a tough pragmatist, but she resents giving up her dream of attending high school to care for her aging grandmother. She even more strongly chafes at the fact that her mother must become a mill hand and turn her weekly pay packet over to Pa Franklin. Halley’s growing sense of self and her mother’s journey from grief to independence evolve slowly, changing like the seasons on the farm; the plot moves unhurriedly but with determination to the satisfying end. That Gibbons knows this hardscrabble world to the bone shows in every precise detail of chamber pot, buttermilk and cow-safe fencing.

A richly rewarding look at an era. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-58838-290-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: NewSouth

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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Loosely based on Noble’s own grandmother’s story, this debut hits awfully close to home in the current anti-immigrant...

EVANGELINA TAKES FLIGHT

In 1911 during the Mexican Revolution, a Mexican family seeking refuge from Pancho Villa, soldiers, and violence migrates to Texas.

Debut novelist Noble introduces 13-year-old Evangelina de León—a self-aware, observant, caring daughter and sister—her six siblings, parents, and abuelo, who live on a ranch located outside of Mariposa, a small, northern (fictional) Mexican town. Days after her sister’s quinceañera and the news of imminent raids and violence, the family splits up and, in waves, arrive at a relative’s home in Texas. They have not left struggle behind, however. Signs that read “No Perros! No Negros! No Mexicanos!” tell them they are shunned at grocery stores. The political and racial tensions in their new hometown are not subtle: the family is denied a burial for a stillborn son; foreign-born children must use the woods as a bathroom instead of the school’s outhouse; a black boy is shot; a Lebanese kid is harassed; a young Mexican boy is spat upon; and both white children and adults are cruel to the immigrants in the neighborhood. Using the first person with Spanish sprinkled throughout, Noble propels the novel with vivid imagery and lovely prose, successfully guiding readers behind an immigrant family’s lens. Heartbreakingly real scenarios and the family’s perseverance will allow readers to forgive slow-moving sections.

Loosely based on Noble’s own grandmother’s story, this debut hits awfully close to home in the current anti-immigrant political climate. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55885-848-0

Page Count: 202

Publisher: Piñata Books/Arte Público

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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A poignant and life-affirming story from a master.

LISTEN TO THE MOON

War invades a peaceful English fishing community.

In May 1915 a fisherman and his son, Alfie, from the Scilly Isles west of Great Britain, find a little girl near death on a deserted island, take her home, and care for her. She does not speak but clings to a teddy bear and a blanket with a German name sewn on it. Naming her Lucy Lost, Alfie and his parents and a kindly and wise doctor nurture her with love, music from a gramophone, and drawing material. Months go by, and still no one can uncover any details about her life. But World War I is raging, the British harbor fierce anti-German sentiments, and when news of the name on her blanket spreads, the family is shunned. Morpurgo returns to the World War I of his much-lauded War Horse in a beautifully crafted, multivoiced novel about the sinking of the Lusitania, the strength of family bonds, the vicissitudes of memory, and the fear and bigotry of neighbors. Alfie’s third-person tale provides the main storyline, supported by other voices, including excerpts from the doctor’s journal and the narrow-minded school principal’s records of his horrible teaching theories. It is through Lucy’s voice that all the elements of the tale weave together both beautifully and dramatically.

A poignant and life-affirming story from a master. (author’s notes) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-04204-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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