THE HEART CALLS HOME

More than a decade after the publication of the first books in this trilogy (Which Way Freedom, 1986; Out From This Place 1988), Hansen completes her story of Obi and Easter, two escaped slaves from South Carolina, who become separated during the Civil War. After leaving the army, Obi searches for Easter, learning that she has moved to Philadelphia to become a teacher, but intends to establish her home in the black settlement of New Canaan. While awaiting her return, Obi struggles to care for Grace, Scipio, and Araba, three orphans who fled a massacre in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, a black town destroyed by whites. Much of the story is told in letters between Obi and Easter, as Obi fights storms, disease, and bigotry while he builds a carpentry business. His love for Easter and her determination to help build New Canaan finally leads Obi to find his place in life. While the earlier novels set forth the romance more clearly, this one is just as strong in its enlivening depiction of African-American history. Hansen deftly weaves real historical events into the novel, presenting a vivid account of a budding black settlement during Reconstruction. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8027-8636-7

Page Count: 174

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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BEYOND PARADISE

During WWII in the Philippines, American citizens trapped in the war zone were imprisoned for years by the Japanese, events that provide the context for Hertenstein’s first novel, which focuses on one 14-year-old, Louise. Louise’s minister father is captured in Manila, leaving her and her weak-willed mother to face life alone with other Baptist missionaries on an outlying island. The colony escapes into the hills for a time, but is discovered and interned in a concentration camp. Eventually they are moved to Manila, and later to the notorious camp, Los Banos. One of Louise’s friends is discovered with a radio and executed; food is scarce; people are dying. Hertenstein writes with sensitivity, although the story is often disjointed, e.g., the news that the colony has been taken prisoner comes in a letter Louise writes to her sister, instead of through Louise’s natural-sounding first-person narration, which filled the first 60 pages. When the Japanese disappear from the camp, Louise, now almost 18, rejoices that finally there will be “No bowing, no bayonets,” yet bowing and bayonets, major features of Japanese concentration camps, have hardly been mentioned. A first work that is shakily compelling, often uplifting, and certainly promising. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-16381-5

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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SKULLDUGGERY

PLB 0-7868-2439-5 From Karr (Man of the Family, p. 1312, etc.), a historical novel that is remarkably cheerful, considering that among its key elements are grave-robbing and a hideous criminal on the prowl. In New York City in 1840, Matthew loses his whole family to cholera. Trying to keep body and soul together, he answers an advertisement for an assistant to a remarkable fellow, Dr. Asa B. Cornwall, phrenologist. Dr. ABC, as he is known, studies the cranial features of people, and deduces by the lobes and bumps on their heads their personalities and characteristics; he’s writing his magnum opus to prove his theories. Matthew takes to the larger-than-life doctor; they travel to Philadelphia, London, Paris, and the south of France, attempting’surreptitiously—to dig up famous skulls for the doctor’s research. All the while, in the smoothly suspenseful plotting, a vicious and mysterious stranger with a scar follows them, putting Matthew in danger and haunting his nightmares. The thrilling denouement takes place on St. Helena and involves the body of Napoleon himself; this novel is rich in period color and good old-fashioned derring-do. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7868-0506-4

Page Count: 230

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1999

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