SONG OF BE

A Scottish-born South African who ``has received many awards'' looks deep into the mind and heart of a young Ju/'hoan Bushman caught in Namibia's new independence and her people's uneasily evolving ties to the modern world. Be engages empathy from her first words—``I have just killed myself.'' Then, explaining that the arrow's poison may take days to act, she tells her story. As a young child, when her grandfather summons them to help, she and her mother leave their traditional village in the Kalahari for a hardscrabble farm belonging to gruff ``Kleinbaas'' Coetzee and his troubled wife, Min. Between bouts of despair, the childless Min is kind to intelligent, thoughtful Be; she teaches her and brings her books that offer puzzling glimpses of the world's unimaginable complexity. As she nears puberty, Be pieces together her family's story. Her grandfather, virtually a slave to Kleinbaas's father, is now a friend (of sorts) to Kleinbaas; her mother has been his mistress. The Coetzees' past, in its way, is as full of sorrow; to Beake's credit, she depicts all her characters—from Khu (a young man who's registering black voters) to the old man who chooses loyalty to whites, from university-educated Min to Be herself- -with compassion as well as objectivity. The end (Khu, who loves Be, may save her) runs counter to the tragic tenor of what precedes it; yet the message that the next generation holds a fragile hope is not amiss. Spare, lyrical, absorbing: a novel that, like Shabanu, brings a vibrant young woman and her vanishing culture vividly to life. Author's note on the setting. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-8050-2905-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1993

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Thoughtful and entertaining.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 19

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

BETTER TOGETHER

Estranged sisters plan a scheme à la The Parent Trap but are met with an unexpected twist.

Eighteen-year-old Siri Maza from New Jersey is mired in anger and uncertainty after an injury cuts short her burgeoning ballet career. At her mother’s insistence, she agrees to attend a wellness retreat in Colorado—and crashes into a barely remembered long-lost sister she’s been told was an imaginary friend. After bombing spectacularly onstage, 20-year-old Los Angeles comedian Jamie Federov is happy to escape to the Rediscover Yourself retreat, even if it is one of several conditions set by her father upon her moving back home. Jamie’s shocked when she encounters the younger sister she hasn’t seen since their parents split up 14 years ago. Spotting an opportunity for comedic inspiration, Jamie hatches a plot for the two to temporarily swap places and confront their parents. Only when they’re on their respective flights home do they realize that they’ve been transformed to look like one another. The relative ease with which various characters accept the magical element strains belief, but the sisters’ growth over the course of the story is convincing and satisfying. With help from their love interests, Pakistani Zarar and Filipina Dawn—both of whom are well developed and endearing—Jamie and Siri, who are White, confront their individual flaws and strengths and learn to accept the work inherent to healthy familial relationships.

Thoughtful and entertaining. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76006-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more