Though the facts of the story are well known, Sheehan offers a solid portrait of slavery that also brings the child and...

READ REVIEW

TRUTH

A fictional account of the life of Sojourner Truth—abolitionist, feminist, preacher and former slave—sticks close to the facts while imagining the mostly appalling details of the activist’s early life.

Though Sojourner Truth narrated her own story (dictated to Olive Gilbert and published in 1850), more than half of her slim autobiography is taken up with her spiritual journey and the political activism of her later years. Differently, psychotherapist Sheehan’s debut imagines the details of Sojourn’s childhood and young womanhood—that is, her life in slavery. Born around 1797 to Mau Mau Bett and Bomefree, Isabella, though born in slavery and no stranger to work as a child, was fortunate to have been raised by both her parents and favored by her Dutch master. Her purchase by John Neely when she’d reached age nine was the beginning of her misery: he beat her, assaulted her sexually, refused to teach her his native English, and beat her again when she responded to him in Dutch. After a year of perpetual fear, Isabella was sold to a rowdy bunch of tavern-keepers, a Dutch family who treated her well. Soon after, she was sold to John Dumont, with whom she stayed until her freedom. Though Dumont favored Isabella (above all others in his household, it seems), his wife was unspeakably cruel, molesting Isabella on a regular basis. After a forced marriage to an old slave and bearing four children, Isabella defiantly left the Dumont house just a year before slavery was abolished in New York. As a free woman, she moved from house to house as a domestic until she finally went to New York City, changed her name, and grew into the religious leader and activist that make her famous today.

Though the facts of the story are well known, Sheehan offers a solid portrait of slavery that also brings the child and young woman to life.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2003

ISBN: 0-7432-4444-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ

An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

ONE GOOD DEED

Thriller writer Baldacci (A Minute to Midnight, 2019, etc.) launches a new detective series starring World War II combat vet Aloysius Archer.

In 1949, Archer is paroled from Carderock Prison (he was innocent) and must report regularly to his parole officer, Ernestine Crabtree (she’s “damn fine-looking”). Parole terms forbid his visiting bars or loose women, which could become a problem. Trouble starts when businessman Hank Pittleman offers Archer $100 to recover a ’47 Cadillac that’s collateral for a debt owed by Lucas Tuttle, who readily agrees he owes the money. But Tuttle wants his daughter Jackie back—she’s Pittleman’s girlfriend, and she won’t return to Daddy. Archer finds the car, but it’s been torched. With no collateral to collect, he may have to return his hundred bucks. Meanwhile, Crabtree gets Archer the only job available, butchering hogs at the slaughterhouse. He’d killed plenty of men in combat, and now he needs peace. The Pittleman job doesn’t provide that peace, but at least it doesn’t involve bashing hogs’ brains in. People wind up dead and Archer becomes a suspect. So he noses around and shows that he might have the chops to be a good private investigator, a shamus. This is an era when gals have gams, guys say dang and keep extra Lucky Strikes in their hatbands, and a Lady Liberty half-dollar buys a good meal. The dialogue has a '40s noir feel: “And don’t trust nobody.…I don’t care how damn pretty they are.” There’s adult entertainment at the Cat’s Meow, cheap grub at the Checkered Past, and just enough clichés to prove that no one’s highfalutin. Readers will like Archer. He’s a talented man who enjoys detective stories, won’t keep ill-gotten gains, and respects women. All signs suggest a sequel where he hangs out a shamus shingle.

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5056-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2019

Did you like this book?

more