A moving, lyrical tale of a strong young hero dealing with a terrifying disease.

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RUNNING FROM MOLOKA'I

In this coming-of-age historical novel, a girl learns of a horrific leper colony on Moloka’i in Hawaii.

In the late 19th century, Mele Bennett is a hapa-haole (mixed-race) girl. Her White father is Dr. Reed Bennett, who is with the Board of Health; her mother, Nahoa, is a Native Hawaiian. Their marriage is tested by the policy of forced resettlement to the colony on Moloka’i for all who are diagnosed with leprosy, and it is the Natives, the kanaka, who are almost exclusively susceptible. For those sent to the colony, it is a lonely life: They will never return to their homes and they will never see their loved ones again. Moreover, conditions are barely humane. Reed is very pained by this policy, but the science of the day dictates that such isolation is the only safeguard against an epidemic. He has to follow his conscience. Meanwhile, Mele’s childhood love, Keahi, finds a suspicious rash on his chest. Like many others, he escapes into the bush, where tracking him is almost impossible. This is when Mele discovers that her father is more than she thought and she begins to reconcile her White half and brown half, something that was tearing her apart. Anderson writes beautifully. The opening paragraph about Mele’s childhood house reveals a major theme of the book in just a few brush strokes of color. The scene in which young Jacob Maila is torn from his screaming mother by the authorities is truly heart-rending. And the arrogance of the powers that be (haole—White—of course) is infuriating. The author gives Mele, the first-person narrator, uncommon poetic gifts, as in streetlights “winking like stories wanting to be told” or when her father’s “voice crawled out of his throat” in an agonized reply. Almost every page offers such a treat. Readers will fervently hope that Anderson has more novels in her because this one is a winner.

A moving, lyrical tale of a strong young hero dealing with a terrifying disease.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73549-060-1

Page Count: 258

Publisher: Love Song Graphics

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

THE FOUR WINDS

The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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