A memorable story of a matriarch whose bravery and tenacity inspired her children.

Heavenly Silence

RELIGIOUS ISLAND-STYLE STORY

An inspiring novel of a runaway’s journey through heartache.

In this novel’s introduction, the real-life Essie Brown’s son eulogizes her as a woman of sacrifice—a heroine who led a turbulent life until she found God and turned her life around. Her fictionalized story begins in Jamaica—a gutsy 14-year-old determined to make a life for herself, who escapes her resentful adoptive family and the arduous work they make her do. After she runs away from tiny Cascade to the city of Montego Bay, Essie hunts for work and soon finds a job working for the Ferguson family, baby-sitting their children and cooking their meals. She begins to enjoy her life in the big city, making friends and even finding a boyfriend, Stedman; then she gets pregnant and miscarries. Although she and Stedman are determined to stay together and have a family, she has another miscarriage and then another, and Stedman leaves her for her best friend, Cherry. Heartbroken and angry, she once again resolves to make it on her own and lands a job as a hotel chef. She soon finds herself pregnant once more, but this time, the father wants nothing to do with her, and she brings the pregnancy to full term. After a series of ill-fated affairs, Essie finds Tim Brown, a friend from childhood who now promises to be the first man to stand by her. But soon enough, Essie moves on and searches for a wealthy man to take care of her. This novel shows how, in the end, Essie’s journey and faith helped her grow strong and focused; she eventually raised eight children on her own, molding them into ambitious, motivated sons and daughters. She held her unwieldy family together with gumption, stoicism and a willingness to recreate herself whenever life proved difficult. Her determination is powerful, as is this fictionalized collection of key moments in her life.

A memorable story of a matriarch whose bravery and tenacity inspired her children.

Pub Date: March 29, 2013

ISBN: 978-1483987279

Page Count: 274

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2013

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The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

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THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ

An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS

These letters from some important executive Down Below, to one of the junior devils here on earth, whose job is to corrupt mortals, are witty and written in a breezy style seldom found in religious literature. The author quotes Luther, who said: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." This the author does most successfully, for by presenting some of our modern and not-so-modern beliefs as emanating from the devil's headquarters, he succeeds in making his reader feel like an ass for ever having believed in such ideas. This kind of presentation gives the author a tremendous advantage over the reader, however, for the more timid reader may feel a sense of guilt after putting down this book. It is a clever book, and for the clever reader, rather than the too-earnest soul.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1942

ISBN: 0060652934

Page Count: 53

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1943

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