A standout, vividly written story of wartime.

READ REVIEW

TINA'S WAR

A young girl tells of life in a small French town toward the end of World War II in this historical novel.

Debut novelist Obolensky lets Tina, who’s 9 going on 10, tell this story set in the spring of 1944. Because of health problems, Tina has been sent from Paris to the town of Dormans in France to live with the Marchands—mother Nanette, father Bébert, their son, Guigui, and grandmother Mémé. Dormans is under occupation by the Nazis, so fear, tension, and resentment abound. But already, rumor has it that the tide has turned in the war and it will be only a matter of time before the Americans come to liberate the town. Meanwhile, life goes on, and readers get to know and love the Marchands and several other characters in the area—some suspect, some quirky, and some generous; the Germans (known as “the Boches”) are, of course, deeply despised. This is a story of Tina learning fearful truths and navigating the darker recesses of life while also being cherished by the Marchands. (Her tale is bookended by that of a mature Tina’s return, years later, for the funeral of one of her relatives.) The author makes sure that tragedy stalks the story, as when one key character is shot dead by a German squad on patrol. Tina also witnesses the love between a German soldier, Oberleutnant Redlich, and Odile Rouleau, her schoolteacher, and no good comes of that situation, either. Overall, Obolensky writes very well—lyrically, in fact, and with acute understanding. For example, Tina explains her happiness in the Marchands’ house this way: “I was a chameleon and joy was the color of the moment.” The author’s description of the hysterical hilarity of the town’s eventual liberation is also spot-on, and characters’ deaths can be heart-wrenching. There are some distracting typos, including missing commas, but the beauty of the prose overwhelms these flaws.  

A standout, vividly written story of wartime.

Pub Date: March 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4835-9085-1

Page Count: 346

Publisher: BookBaby

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A promising debut that’s awake to emotional, political, and cultural tensions across time and continents.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

HOMEGOING

A novel of sharply drawn character studies immersed in more than 250 hard, transformative years in the African-American diaspora.

Gyasi’s debut novel opens in the mid-1700s in what is now Ghana, as tribal rivalries are exploited by British and Dutch colonists and slave traders. The daughter of one tribal leader marries a British man for financial expediency, then learns that the “castle” he governs is a holding dungeon for slaves. (When she asks what’s held there, she’s told “cargo.”) The narrative soon alternates chapters between the Ghanans and their American descendants up through the present day. On either side of the Atlantic, the tale is often one of racism, degradation, and loss: a slave on an Alabama plantation is whipped “until the blood on the ground is high enough to bathe a baby”; a freedman in Baltimore fears being sent back South with the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act; a Ghanan woman is driven mad from the abuse of a missionary and her husband’s injury in a tribal war; a woman in Harlem is increasingly distanced from (and then humiliated by) her husband, who passes as white. Gyasi is a deeply empathetic writer, and each of the novel’s 14 chapters is a savvy character portrait that reveals the impact of racism from multiple perspectives. It lacks the sweep that its premise implies, though: while the characters share a bloodline, and a gold-flecked stone appears throughout the book as a symbolic connector, the novel is more a well-made linked story collection than a complex epic. Yet Gyasi plainly has the talent to pull that off: “I will be my own nation,” one woman tells a British suitor early on, and the author understands both the necessity of that defiance and how hard it is to follow through on it.

A promising debut that’s awake to emotional, political, and cultural tensions across time and continents.

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-94713-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Pulitzer Prize Winner

  • National Book Award Finalist

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more