An extremely memorable and winning YA tale of the perseverance dreams require.

READ REVIEW

THE RUNAWAY DAUGHTER

A coming-of-age novella in which a young girl dreams of leaving India.

Kamada, the teenage narrator of Philip’s spirited, absorbing debut novel, declares: “I will be the hero of my life. I will make deliberate choices to create my own destiny and escape my mother’s dirty world.” Her mother is a high-priced prostitute, an imperious and sharp-tongued woman not above striking her daughter when displeased with her; she has nevertheless raised Kamada in comparatively luxurious comfort, in a nice house with servants to attend her. The “dirty world” here is not only the prostitute life (into which Kamada’s mother expects her to follow), but the teeming city of Bombay, which Philip captures with overflowing detail. The streets Kamada navigates are full of ordinary people “eager to rush home to cook elaborate meals for their husbands or watch the latest cricket match,” but they are also full of rickshaw wallahs, eunuch hijras and violent beggars. It’s a profusely colorful world, though it holds no charms for Kamada. A “small brown boy pours some [lemon sherbet] into two glasses for two brown men with moustaches. Brown sparrows trill on electric poles. I am a brown girl in a brown world,” she says. She dreams of leaving it all behind and going to America to study and live. “I will escape this chaos,” she vows. “I will escape these people jamming the traffic and the traffic jamming the people.” Her means of escape is the blue folder she carries everywhere, containing all the carefully assembled documents she needs to take her GED test and apply for her student visa; she also escapes via her own antic imagination, which conjures fantasy creatures everywhere, animates the fruits at vending stalls and lends voices to the city’s potholes. It’s this overlay of fantasy, always evocatively but matter-of-factly interwoven with the real-world narrative, that lends the book its greatest charm. The sheer manic detail of it all speaks eloquently of Kamada’s fever-pitch desperation for a new life, and its resolution at the book’s end is touchingly bittersweet.

An extremely memorable and winning YA tale of the perseverance dreams require.

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-9893159-9-9

Page Count: 154

Publisher: SparkPress

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Slow moving and richly layered.

THE SEARCHER

A retired cop takes one last case in this stand-alone novel from the creator of the Dublin Murder Squad.

Originally from North Carolina, Cal Hooper has spent the last 30 years in Chicago. “A small place. A small town in a small country”: That’s what he’s searching for when he moves to the West of Ireland. His daughter is grown, his wife has left him, so Cal is on his own—until a kid named Trey starts hanging around. Trey’s brother is missing. Everyone believes that Brendan has run off just like his father did, but Trey thinks there’s more to the story than just another young man leaving his family behind in search of money and excitement in the city. Trey wants the police detective who just emigrated from America to find out what’s really happened to Brendan. French is deploying a well-worn trope here—in fact, she’s deploying a few. Cal is a new arrival to an insular community, and he’s about to discover that he didn’t leave crime and violence behind when he left the big city. Cal is a complex enough character, though, and it turns out that the mystery he’s trying to solve is less shocking than what he ultimately discovers. French's latest is neither fast-paced nor action-packed, and it has as much to do with Cal’s inner life as it does with finding Brendan. Much of what mystery readers are looking for in terms of action is squeezed into the last third of the novel, and the morally ambiguous ending may be unsatisfying for some. But French’s fans have surely come to expect imperfect allegiance to genre conventions, and the author does, ultimately, deliver plenty of twists, shocking revelations, and truly chilling moments.

Slow moving and richly layered.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-73-522465-0

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Addressing race, risk, retreat, and the ripple effects of a national emergency, Alam's novel is just in time for this moment.

LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND

An interrupted family vacation, unexpected visitors, a mysterious blackout—something is happening, and the world may never be the same.

On a reassuringly sunny summer day, Amanda, an account director in advertising; Clay, a college professor; and their children, Archie, 15, and Rose, 13, make their way from Brooklyn to a luxury home (swimming pool! hot tub! marble countertops!) in a remote area of Long Island they’ve rented for a family vacation. Shortly after they arrive, however, the family’s holiday is interrupted by a knock on the door: The house’s owners, a prosperous older Black couple—George Washington and his wife, Ruth—have shown up unannounced because New York City has been plunged into a blackout and their Park Avenue high-rise apartment didn’t feel safe. Soon it becomes clear that the blackout is a symptom (or is it a cause?) of something larger—and nothing is safe. Has there been a nuclear or climate disaster, a war, a terrorist act, a bomb? Alam’s story unfolds like a dystopian fever dream cloaked in the trappings of a dream vacation: Why do hundreds of deer show up in the house’s well-maintained backyard or a flock of bright-pink flamingos frolic in the family pool and then fly away? What is the noise, loud enough to crack glass, that comes, without warning, once and then, later, repeatedly? Is it safer to go back to the city, to civilization, or to remain away, in a world apart? As they search for answers and adjust to what increasingly appears to be a confusing new normal, the two families—one Black, one White; one older, one younger; one rich, one middle-class—are compelled to find community amid calamity, to come together to support each other and survive. As he did in his previous novels, Rich and Pretty (2016) and That Kind of Mother (2018), Alam shows an impressive facility for getting into his characters’ heads and an enviable empathy for their moral shortcomings, emotional limitations, and failures of imagination. The result is a riveting novel that thrums with suspense yet ultimately offers no easy answers—disappointing those who crave them even as it fittingly reflects our time.

Addressing race, risk, retreat, and the ripple effects of a national emergency, Alam's novel is just in time for this moment.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266763-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more