by Jennifer Acker ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 16, 2019
A thoughtful, deeply researched debut.
Through shifting viewpoints, this roving saga about immigration, sacrifice, and fate explores the consequences of making difficult decisions for the sake of one's family.
Having abandoned his premedical studies, Sunil Chandaria is a philosophy graduate student at Harvard, stumped by the prospect of finishing his dissertation on the origins of moral beliefs. His mother, Urmila, runs a struggling gift shop with imported goods in her local mall in Ohio. And Premchand, his father, remains at a distant remove from them both, by turns baffled by and enamored of his son's American lifestyle. When he immigrated from Kenya to Columbus, Ohio, Premchand sought career and financial stability in a medical practice, ultimately creating an unbridgeable cultural gap between his family's two generations: "Premchand's own absorption...had made him lose sight of the fact that in America a child could grow up to be anything. He had not presented his son with any options. Premchand had not known himself what they were." Ultimately, however, it's one of Urmila's decisions that shakes the family to its core, setting off a series of events both tragic and mundane in the U.S. and overseas. Acker's debut is a carefully drawn portrait of a family constrained by choices that reach back generations, from the patriarch's resolve to leave India to seek work building a railroad through the Kenyan plains to Sunil's desire to marry longtime girlfriend Amy, an ambitious scientist who doesn't meet with his mother's approval. In many ways, this is a novel of ideas, and Acker draws heavily on philosophy and histories of British colonialism as her characters parse out the meaning of their decisions—or their inability to make them with clarity and freedom. This sensibility makes for a book grounded in the head, rather than the heart, but it also gives Acker's characters more room to behave in very human ways, whether stubborn, small, or cruel. It's a rare but honest look at the way parents, children, and spouses talk to one another but don't always hear what's being said.A thoughtful, deeply researched debut.
Pub Date: April 16, 2019
Page Count: 300
Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019
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by Kristin Hannah ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 3, 2015
Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.
Hannah’s new novel is an homage to the extraordinary courage and endurance of Frenchwomen during World War II.
In 1995, an elderly unnamed widow is moving into an Oregon nursing home on the urging of her controlling son, Julien, a surgeon. This trajectory is interrupted when she receives an invitation to return to France to attend a ceremony honoring passeurs: people who aided the escape of others during the war. Cut to spring, 1940: Viann has said goodbye to husband Antoine, who's off to hold the Maginot line against invading Germans. She returns to tending her small farm, Le Jardin, in the Loire Valley, teaching at the local school and coping with daughter Sophie’s adolescent rebellion. Soon, that world is upended: The Germans march into Paris and refugees flee south, overrunning Viann’s land. Her long-estranged younger sister, Isabelle, who has been kicked out of multiple convent schools, is sent to Le Jardin by Julien, their father in Paris, a drunken, decidedly unpaternal Great War veteran. As the depredations increase in the occupied zone—food rationing, systematic looting, and the billeting of a German officer, Capt. Beck, at Le Jardin—Isabelle’s outspokenness is a liability. She joins the Resistance, volunteering for dangerous duty: shepherding downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain. Code-named the Nightingale, Isabelle will rescue many before she's captured. Meanwhile, Viann’s journey from passive to active resistance is less dramatic but no less wrenching. Hannah vividly demonstrates how the Nazis, through starvation, intimidation and barbarity both casual and calculated, demoralized the French, engineering a community collapse that enabled the deportations and deaths of more than 70,000 Jews. Hannah’s proven storytelling skills are ideally suited to depicting such cataclysmic events, but her tendency to sentimentalize undermines the gravitas of this tale.Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.
Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015
Page Count: 448
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014
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by Colleen Hoover ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 18, 2014
Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson.
Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty.Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.
Pub Date: March 18, 2014
Page Count: 384
Review Posted Online: May 6, 2014
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