Next book


A richly rewarding look at an era.

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. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

Next book


Stands out neither as a folk-tale retelling, a coming-of-age story, nor a Holocaust novel.

A Holocaust tale with a thin “Hansel and Gretel” veneer from the author of The Devil’s Arithmetic (1988).

Chaim and Gittel, 14-year-old twins, live with their parents in the Lodz ghetto, forced from their comfortable country home by the Nazis. The siblings are close, sharing a sign-based twin language; Chaim stutters and communicates primarily with his sister. Though slowly starving, they make the best of things with their beloved parents, although it’s more difficult once they must share their tiny flat with an unpleasant interfaith couple and their Mischling (half-Jewish) children. When the family hears of their impending “wedding invitation”—the ghetto idiom for a forthcoming order for transport—they plan a dangerous escape. Their journey is difficult, and one by one, the adults vanish. Ultimately the children end up in a fictional child labor camp, making ammunition for the German war effort. Their story effectively evokes the dehumanizing nature of unremitting silence. Nevertheless, the dense, distancing narrative (told in a third-person contemporaneous narration focused through Chaim with interspersed snippets from Gittel’s several-decades-later perspective) has several consistency problems, mostly regarding the relative religiosity of this nominally secular family. One theme seems to be frustration with those who didn’t fight back against overwhelming odds, which makes for a confusing judgment on the suffering child protagonists.

Stands out neither as a folk-tale retelling, a coming-of-age story, nor a Holocaust novel. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-25778-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

Next book


From the Princesses of Myth series , Vol. 1

Nebula Award–winner and Hugo-finalist Friesner disappointingly offers humdrum fare based on Greek mythology. Meet Helen of Sparta, not yet of Troy. True to Spartan history, she’s a strong female (literally), and prepped by her mother to one day be queen. Though it’s true that the real Helen was probably a legitimate wrestler, Friesner has her spunky, stubborn and contrarian heroine dressing as a boy to be trained in sword-fighting beside her brothers Castor and Polydeceus. She then sneaks off with them to participate in the historic hunt of the Calydonian Boar . . . and at the end of the volume, prepares readers for a sequel by tagging along with Jason’s Argonauts. Friesner uses these legends as a backdrop for a Xena Warrior Princess–type of character of 21st-century sensibilities—with entertaining and popular results, but not uniquely or distinctively, and without much respect for or elucidation of the actual mythology. Some may enjoy the romp. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: April 24, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-375-87528-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

Close Quickview