WHERE THE ROAD GOES

Greenberg (No Reck'ning Made, 1993, etc.) hits her full storytelling stride in a tale of domestic tragedy revealed through the diaries and correspondence of a 62-year-old activist grandmother who's participating in an Environmental Walk from California to Cape Cod. It's during this journey that Antigone (``Tig'') confronts questions raised by crises en route and at her Colorado home: When does ideal love become blind to its object? When does a crusade for humanity lose sight of human beings? Tig has left husband Martin, to whom she is happily married (as she had left him in her younger years for one Cause or another), to join a purportedly nonpolitical yearlong walk coast-to-coast that will sound out Americans on their views about the environment. Part of the small army of campers, Tig and her friend Polly discover much about the nation's varying moods—from the group anger of young Navajos to the group optimism of flooded-out Missourians. Meanwhile, letters from home—frank, tense, worried—indicate trouble. Daughter Solidarity, divorced and with two small sons, is devastated by the torments of her friends and neighbors, a gay male couple—one defeated by a cruel custody fight for his sons, the other bent on self-destruction. But, worse, daughter Justice and her husband are about to suffer the agony of losing their 19-year-old daughter Hope in a mismatched marriage to Indian Larry, a product of foster homes and psychiatric social programs, and with no roots in the tribe he claims. Larry drinks and rages, while Hope, pregnant, continues her sacrificial dedication to her ideal of love. The earnest, desperate, middle- class family attempts to save Hope and to reach out to Larry, who is complex, lost, and ultimately dangerous. Tragedies will be played out, as Greenberg nicely catches the way in which causes and romantic ideals sometimes run afoul of complex, stubborn realities. Stimulating and involving.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-8050-5163-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1997

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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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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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