by Kalani Pickhart ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 19, 2021
An excellent debut from an author who's bursting with talent.
The lives of four people intersect during the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution.
In February 2014, Ukrainian police fired into a crowd of protesters in Kyiv, killing more than 100 civilians who were demonstrating against the nation’s president, Viktor Yanukovych. While Yanukovych would eventually be removed from power, the massacre has been etched into the memories of people across Ukraine and the rest of Europe. The mass shootings, and the protests that preceded it, form the plot of Pickhart’s disquieting debut novel, which follows four people at the center of the demonstrations. There’s Katya, an American doctor treating wounded protesters at a Kyiv monastery; she’s left the U.S. after the death of her young child and the resulting decay of her marriage. She finds herself treating Aleksandr, a former KGB spy who plays piano for the protesters, haunted by his own past as a Soviet who participated in the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. Misha, an engineer still mourning the death of his wife, takes part in the protests along with an activist named Slava, his former lover–turned–sister figure: “She wasn’t his, he wasn’t hers, but they were together. For years now, a cobbled family.” As the violence in Kyiv worsens, the characters find their lives thrown into terrible disarray, with Katya’s thoughts returning to her late child and Slava falling in love with a lesbian filmmaker. The novel ends where it must, and Pickhart doesn’t pull any punches; this is an unremittingly dark novel, but it’s never exploitative. Pickhart employs an unusual structure, with switching points of view punctuated by a kind of Greek chorus courtesy of Kobzari, old Ukrainian singers who were killed by the Russian czar for singing in their own language. Innovative, emotionally resonant, and deeply affecting, this is a more-than-promising debut from a very talented writer.An excellent debut from an author who's bursting with talent.
Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021
Page Count: 260
Publisher: Two Dollar Radio
Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2021
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021
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by Mitch Albom ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 14, 2023
A captivating allegory about evil, lies, and forgiveness.
Truth and deception clash in this tale of the Holocaust.
Udo Graf is proud that the Wolf has assigned him the task of expelling all 50,000 Jews from Salonika, Greece. In that city, Nico Krispis is an 11-year-old Jewish boy whose blue eyes and blond hair deceive, but whose words do not. Those who know him know he has never told a lie in his life—“Never be the one to tell lies, Nico,” his grandfather teaches him. “God is always watching.” Udo and Nico meet, and Udo decides to exploit the child’s innocence. At the train station where Jews are being jammed into cattle cars bound for Auschwitz, Udo gives Nico a yellow star to wear and persuades him to whisper among the crowd, “I heard it from a German officer. They are sending us to Poland. We will have new homes. And jobs.” The lad doesn’t know any better, so he helps persuade reluctant Jews to board the train to hell. “You were a good little liar,” Udo later tells Nico, and delights in the prospect of breaking the boy’s spirit, which is more fun and a greater challenge than killing him outright. When Nico realizes the horrific nature of what he's done, his truth-telling days are over. He becomes an inveterate liar about everything. Narrating the story is the Angel of Truth, whom according to a parable God had cast out of heaven and onto earth, where Truth shattered into billions of pieces, each to lodge in a human heart. (Obviously, many hearts have been missed.) Truth skillfully weaves together the characters, including Nico; his brother, Sebastian; Sebastian’s wife, Fannie; and the “heartless deceiver” Udo. Events extend for decades beyond World War II, until everyone’s lives finally collide in dramatic fashion. As Truth readily acknowledges, his account is loaded with twists and turns, some fortuitous and others not. Will Nico Krispis ever seek redemption? And will he find it? Author Albom’s passion shows through on every page in this well-crafted novel.A captivating allegory about evil, lies, and forgiveness.
Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2023
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023
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by Barbara Kingsolver ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 18, 2022
An angry, powerful book seething with love and outrage for a community too often stereotyped or ignored.
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2022
New York Times Bestseller
Pulitzer Prize Winner
Inspired by David Copperfield, Kingsolver crafts a 21st-century coming-of-age story set in America’s hard-pressed rural South.
It’s not necessary to have read Dickens’ famous novel to appreciate Kingsolver’s absorbing tale, but those who have will savor the tough-minded changes she rings on his Victorian sentimentality while affirming his stinging critique of a heartless society. Our soon-to-be orphaned narrator’s mother is a substance-abusing teenage single mom who checks out via OD on his 11th birthday, and Demon’s cynical, wised-up voice is light-years removed from David Copperfield’s earnest tone. Yet readers also see the yearning for love and wells of compassion hidden beneath his self-protective exterior. Like pretty much everyone else in Lee County, Virginia, hollowed out economically by the coal and tobacco industries, he sees himself as someone with no prospects and little worth. One of Kingsolver’s major themes, hit a little too insistently, is the contempt felt by participants in the modern capitalist economy for those rooted in older ways of life. More nuanced and emotionally engaging is Demon’s fierce attachment to his home ground, a place where he is known and supported, tested to the breaking point as the opiate epidemic engulfs it. Kingsolver’s ferocious indictment of the pharmaceutical industry, angrily stated by a local girl who has become a nurse, is in the best Dickensian tradition, and Demon gives a harrowing account of his descent into addiction with his beloved Dori (as naïve as Dickens’ Dora in her own screwed-up way). Does knowledge offer a way out of this sinkhole? A committed teacher tries to enlighten Demon’s seventh grade class about how the resource-rich countryside was pillaged and abandoned, but Kingsolver doesn’t air-brush his students’ dismissal of this history or the prejudice encountered by this African American outsider and his White wife. She is an art teacher who guides Demon toward self-expression, just as his friend Tommy provokes his dawning understanding of how their world has been shaped by outside forces and what he might be able to do about it.An angry, powerful book seething with love and outrage for a community too often stereotyped or ignored.
Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022
Page Count: 560
Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022
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