A luminous collection that mines the mundane as cannily as the fantastic and extraterrestrial.

READ REVIEW

THE MOMENT OF TENDERNESS

From the author of A Wrinkle in Time, 18 gemlike stories ranging from the small heartbreaks of childhood to the discovery of life on a new planet

In these stories, some previously published and others appearing for the first time in this collection, L’Engle explores family dynamics, loneliness, and the pains of growing up. In “Summer Camp,” children show a stunning capacity for cruelty, as when one writes an imploring letter to a lost friend only to witness that friend mocking the letter in front of their bunkmates; in “Madame, Or...” a brother finds his sister at a finishing school with a sordid underbelly and is unable to convince her to leave. L’Engle employs rhythm and repetition to great effect in multiple stories—the same gray cat seems to appear in “Gilberte Must Play Bach” and “Madame, Or...”—and sometimes even in the language of a single sentence: “The piano stood in the lamplight, lamplight shining through burnt shades, red candles in the silver candlesticks...red wax drippings on the base of the candlesticks.” Occasionally, emotional undertones flow over, as in the protagonist’s somewhat saccharine goodbye to her Southern home in “White in the Moon the Long Road Lies.” Overall, though, the stories seem to peer at strong emotions from the corner of the eye, and humor dances in and out of the tales. “A Foreign Agent” sees a mother and daughter in battle over the daughter’s glasses, which have come to represent the bridge between childhood and adulthood when the mother’s literary agent begins to pursue the daughter. On another planet, a higher life form makes a joke via code: The visitors will be “quartered—housed, that is, of course, not drawn and quartered.” While there is levity, many of these stories end with characters undecided, straddling a nostalgic past and an unsettled future. Although written largely throughout the 1940s and '50s, L’Engle’s lucid explorations of relationships make her writing equally accessible today.

A luminous collection that mines the mundane as cannily as the fantastic and extraterrestrial.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-1782-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A lovely read—entertaining, poignant, and meaningful.

THE OYSTERVILLE SEWING CIRCLE

After facing tragedy and betrayal in New York, an aspiring fashion designer escapes to her idyllic Pacific coast hometown to raise her best friend’s two young children and finds inspiration, redemption, and love in the unexpected journey.

Caroline Shelby always dreamed of leaving tiny Oysterville, Washington, and becoming a couturier. After years of toil, she finally has a big break only to discover a famous designer has stolen her launch line. When she accuses him, he blackballs her, so she’s already struggling when her best friend, Angelique, a renowned model from Haiti whose work visa has expired, shows up on her doorstep with her two biracial children, running from an abusive partner she won’t identify. When Angelique dies of a drug overdose, Caroline takes custody of the kids and flees back to her hometown. She reconnects with her sprawling family and with Will and Sierra Jensen, who were once her best friends, though their relationships have grown more complicated since Will and Sierra married. Caroline feels guilty that she didn’t realize Angelique was abused and tries to make a difference when she discovers that people she knows in Oysterville are also victims of domestic violence. She creates a support group that becomes a welcome source of professional assistance when some designs she works on for the kids garner local interest that grows regional, then national. Meanwhile, restless Sierra pursues her own dreams, leading to Will and Caroline’s exploring some unresolved feelings. Wiggs’ latest is part revenge fantasy and part romantic fairy tale, and while some details feel too smooth—how fortunate that every person in the circle has some helpful occupation that benefits Caroline's business—Caroline has a challenging road, and she rises to it with compassion and resilience. Timelines alternating among the present and past, both recent and long ago, add tension and depth to a complex narrative that touches on the abuse of power toward women and the extra-high stakes when the women involved are undocumented. Finally, Wiggs writes about the children’s race and immigration status with a soft touch that feels natural and easygoing but that might seem unrealistic to some readers.

A lovely read—entertaining, poignant, and meaningful.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-242558-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Well-written and insightful but so heartbreaking that it raises the question of what a reader is looking for in fiction.

DEAR EDWARD

A 12-year-old boy is the sole survivor of a plane crash—a study in before and after.

Edward Adler is moving to California with his adored older brother, Jordan, and their parents: Mom is a scriptwriter for television, Dad is a mathematician who is home schooling his sons. They will get no further than Colorado, where the plane goes down. Napolitano’s (A Good Hard Look, 2011, etc.) novel twins the narrative of the flight from takeoff to impact with the story of Edward’s life over the next six years. Taken in by his mother’s sister and her husband, a childless couple in New Jersey, Edward’s misery is constant and almost impermeable. Unable to bear sleeping in the never-used nursery his aunt and uncle have hastily appointed to serve as his bedroom, he ends up bunking next door, where there's a kid his age, a girl named Shay. This friendship becomes the single strand connecting him to the world of the living. Meanwhile, in alternating chapters, we meet all the doomed airplane passengers, explore their backstories, and learn about their hopes and plans, every single one of which is minutes from obliteration. For some readers, Napolitano’s premise will be too dark to bear, underlining our terrible vulnerability to random events and our inability to protect ourselves or our children from the worst-case scenario while also imagining in exhaustive detail the bleak experience of survival. The people around Edward have no idea how to deal with him; his aunt and uncle try their best to protect him from the horrors of his instant celebrity as Miracle Boy. As one might expect, there is a ray of light for Edward at the end of the tunnel, and for hardier readers this will make Napolitano’s novel a story of hope.

Well-written and insightful but so heartbreaking that it raises the question of what a reader is looking for in fiction.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-5478-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more