An uneven novel about three women following God’s path in spite of institutional obstacles.

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The Troublemakers

In Terrell’s debut novel based on a true story, three nuns stand up to the Catholic Church for the sake of their small Irish village. 

The plot centers on the Sisters of Infinite Grace’s search for a new religious mission when their bishop attempts to seize their convent in Donadon, a small coastal town in Ireland. The convent has dwindled to three remaining nuns: Sister Benedict, a former schoolteacher and current leader of the sisters; Sister Edgar, the youngest and feistiest of the three; and Sister Jerome, a placid, pious woman who says she receives visions from God. When the bishop demands that the sisters leave their convent so that the church can repurpose it as a monastery, they’re initially at a loss as to where to go and what to do. Then Sister Jerome receives a vision of a new seaside hotel that would enrich the Donadon economy. The first half of the book follows their efforts to make that vision a reality. With the help of the villagers and a kindhearted investor, Patrick Flynn, the sisters sell their land to make way for the hotel’s development, thwarting the bishop’s plans. The novel’s second half follows the nuns on a pilgrimage to Rome, where they hope the pope will give them a new mission now that their days in Donadon are coming to a close. But then the pope himself accuses the nuns of being “attaccabrighi,” or “troublemakers.” The sisters soon find themselves in a battle against the institutional infrastructure of Catholicism itself. Unfortunately, the overall plot moves in fits and starts, depriving the novel of the inherent drama of this theme. Lengthy descriptions of the sisters’ meals and excessive haggling over real estate slow the story’s progression, and characters develop little beyond a few defining traits, such as Edgar’s defiance or Jerome’s piety. Nonetheless, Terrell enriches the story with local flavor, including Irish dialect (“This devil of a holy man will not feckin’ have the best of Patrick Flynn”) and culture, which will please readers interested in the region; for example, the nuns proudly take a ferry named for the Irish poet William Butler Yeats, and the author makes a point of showing characters drinking Guinness beer throughout.The novel may also interest those who like the politics of the Catholic Church.

An uneven novel about three women following God’s path in spite of institutional obstacles. 

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Nov. 8, 2016

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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