With harrowing suspense and an ending that is as satisfying as it is haunting, this seaman’s odyssey will leave readers...

THE ODYSSEY OF ART O'HARA

A riveting tale of a World War II Navy man’s survival at sea, based on the true account of the USS Indianapolis.

Radioman 3rd Class Art O’Hara, a brash radioman who’s always toting a cigarette on his lip, wakes in a seedy San Francisco motel room. Realizing he’s AWOL, he makes a mad dash to catch his ship just before it heads to sea. Readers ride pillion on this rapid-fire opening to a novel that gains momentum with every page as O’Hara and his fellow sailors embark for the Marianas aboard the USS Atwood. At the outset, life aboard ship doesn’t seem too onerous: O’Hara finds opportunities to shirk work, badger underlings, ponder the mysterious crate in the cargo hold and watch newbies vomit over the railing. Within days of delivering its cargo, the Atwood leaves for the Leyte Gulf. It never reaches its destination. Just after midnight, two torpedoes strike, swiftly sinking the Atwood as men grab life jackets and jump ship. Ocean currents and confusion about whether the distress signal went out leave the survivors wondering if they’ll be rescued, while treading water under a merciless sun. With each day that passes, more men die from their wounds or get picked off by ever-present sharks. Delusions set in: Some men bargain with the Almighty, while others retreat into their imaginations. O’Hara’s fantasy of driving to Montana with his parents gradually merges into memory, and we learn of his love for Atsuko, a young Japanese woman whom he’d met at a dance—a poignant subplot that encapsulates conflicted American attitudes in 1945. Author Loranger, a former Navy man, presents his fictionalized history of the USS Indianapolis with meticulous detail, rich naval lore and bantering humor, and he infuses it with a poetic beauty. Swimming toward warmth, O’Hara thought “he could swim off the edge of the earth and float into the solar surface,” even while dorsal fins circled the “ivory whiteness of his feet...and he did not fault the sharks for coveting them.” After four torturous days in the water, the acceptance of death brings forgiveness, even to predators.

With harrowing suspense and an ending that is as satisfying as it is haunting, this seaman’s odyssey will leave readers pondering their own life choices and courage.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2012

ISBN: 978-1479724147

Page Count: 182

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

BROTHERS IN ARMS

BLUFORD HIGH SERIES #9

In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.

In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 978-1591940173

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Townsend Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

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A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Mary's Song

From the Dream Horse Adventure Series series , Vol. 1

A novel tells the story of two spirited girls who set out to save a lame foal in 1952.

Mary, age 12, lacks muscle control of her legs and must use a wheelchair. Her life is constantly interrupted by trips with her widower father to assorted doctors, all of whom have failed to help her. Mary tolerates the treatments, hoping to one day walk unassisted, but her true passion involves horses. Possessing a library filled with horse books, she loves watching and drawing the animals at a neighboring farm. She longs to own one herself. But her father, overprotective due to her disability and his own lingering grief over Mary’s dead mother, makes her keep her distance. Mary befriends Laura, the emotionally neglected daughter of the wealthy neighboring farm owners, and the two share secret buggy rides. Both girls are attracted to Illusion, a beautiful red bay filly on the farm. Mary learns that Illusion is to be put down by a veterinarian because of a lame leg. Horrified, she decides to talk to the barn manager about the horse (“Isn’t it okay for her to live even if she’s not perfect? I think she deserves a chance”). Soon, Mary and Laura attempt to raise money to save Illusion. At the same time, Mary begins to gain control of her legs thanks to water therapy and secret therapeutic riding with Laura. There is indeed a great deal of poignancy in a story of a girl with a disability fighting to defend the intrinsic value of a lame animal. But this book, the first installment of the Dream Horse Adventure Series, would be twice as touching if Mary interacted with Illusion more. In the tale’s opening, she watches the foal from afar, but she actually spends very little time with the filly she tries so hard to protect. This turns out to be a strange development given the degree to which the narrative relies on her devotion. Count (Selah’s Sweet Dream, 2015) draws Mary and Laura in broad but believable strokes, defined mainly by their unrelenting pluckiness in the face of adversity. While the work tackles disability, death, and grief, Mary’s and Laura’s environments are so idyllic and their optimism and perseverance so remarkable that the story retains an aura of uncomplicated gentleness throughout.

A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

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