An overcrowded but mostly compelling tale of a 16th-century Floridian princess.

ULEYLI

THE PRINCESS & PIRATE (A JUNIOR GRAPHIC NOVEL): BASED ON THE TRUE STORY OF FLORIDA'S POCAHONTAS

A Native princess in Florida fulfills her destiny in debut author Daniels’ first graphic novel in a series.

Teenage Uleyli spends her time crafting items, such as a spider medallion that she’s able to trade to a traveling peddler. However, her parents wish that she, as their eldest daughter, would concentrate more on fulfilling her duties as princess of the village. When Uleyli is 15, Mocoso, the chief of another, nearby village—to which her father is forced to pay tribute—demands that the girl be given to him as a wife. Uleyli’s father agrees to this, but negotiates that the wedding not occur for a year. The princess, distraught, seeks advice from the village medicine woman, who likens her to a fly caught in a spider’s web: “The more you struggle against it, the more stuck you will become. But if you stop struggling and center yourself you will see that you are not the fly but are the spider sitting in the center.” Uleyli refuses to accept this notion; instead, she formulates a plan that revolves around a Spanish prisoner, Juan Ortiz, who was recently brought to the village. Her father wants to execute the young man as revenge for a Spanish raid that killed Uleyli’s grandmother, but the princess convinces him to spare Juan’s life. If she can help Juan escape captivity, she thinks, then maybe he’ll take her with him. Daniels tells his story in simple, easy-to-follow language, and the full-color illustrations by debut artist Mitra are lively and engaging. The story is based on a legendary real-life encounter between a Native woman and a Spanish sailor, which is why the book claims, somewhat reductively, to be about “Florida’s Pocahontas.” The main flaw of the book, however, is its brevity: Daniels stuffs a fairly complex, multievent plot into just 30 pages. Uleyli’s goals, and the threats to her village, change a number of times throughout the story, and, as a result, the conclusion doesn’t feel fully satisfying. Further graphic novels in the series are planned.

An overcrowded but mostly compelling tale of a 16th-century Floridian princess.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9774189-4-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Rebourne Communications

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2020

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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