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AS THE POPPIES BLOOMED

Powerful and sensitive, this tragic novel helps illuminate a historical episode still too little known or acknowledged.

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On the eve of war and destruction, an Armenian family tries to maintain its traditional way of life in this historical novel.

As this luminous, doom-tinged tale begins, it’s 1913 in eastern Turkey, and in the little Armenian village of Salor, the headman’s teenage daughter Anno is hiding in an abandoned well, not only to escape from war or soldiers, but to evade prying eyes on this busy day when her sister is getting married and to steal a moment with Daron, the young man she loves. Their Romeo-and-Juliet story occupies much of the novel. Anno’s father objects to the marriage; he wrongly believes that Daron’s father has been sexually immoral. As this knot gets unraveled, the villagers go about their daily, age-old agrarian routines. And some men quietly make dangerous trips to gather arms and ammo, especially after 1915, when the Ottoman government begins rounding up and murdering Armenian intellectuals and political leaders. Armenians remember the massacres of 1894 and wish to be prepared this time. “But,” as one fedayee, or freedom fighter, observes, “how will a tiny band of men such as ourselves, with nothing but the guns we can smuggle, protect our people from the whole of the Turkish army?” They can’t, and this knowledge hangs over the reader like the clouds veiling Salor’s nearby Mount Maratuk. In her debut novel, Boyadjian vividly conjures the specific sensory details of the Armenians’ lost world—food, drink, nature, daily tasks, and handmade objects, such as a rug given for a wedding “with such a joyous blend of deep reds, oranges, and yellows that everyone gasped.” The story is fiction but is based on memories from the author’s four grandparents—all survivors of the 1915 Armenian genocide. Their survival adds a note of hope.

Powerful and sensitive, this tragic novel helps illuminate a historical episode still too little known or acknowledged.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9911241-0-7

Page Count: 281

Publisher: Salor Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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IT ENDS WITH US

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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THE NIGHTINGALE

Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

Hannah’s new novel is an homage to the extraordinary courage and endurance of Frenchwomen during World War II.

In 1995, an elderly unnamed widow is moving into an Oregon nursing home on the urging of her controlling son, Julien, a surgeon. This trajectory is interrupted when she receives an invitation to return to France to attend a ceremony honoring passeurs: people who aided the escape of others during the war. Cut to spring, 1940: Viann has said goodbye to husband Antoine, who's off to hold the Maginot line against invading Germans. She returns to tending her small farm, Le Jardin, in the Loire Valley, teaching at the local school and coping with daughter Sophie’s adolescent rebellion. Soon, that world is upended: The Germans march into Paris and refugees flee south, overrunning Viann’s land. Her long-estranged younger sister, Isabelle, who has been kicked out of multiple convent schools, is sent to Le Jardin by Julien, their father in Paris, a drunken, decidedly unpaternal Great War veteran. As the depredations increase in the occupied zone—food rationing, systematic looting, and the billeting of a German officer, Capt. Beck, at Le Jardin—Isabelle’s outspokenness is a liability. She joins the Resistance, volunteering for dangerous duty: shepherding downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain. Code-named the Nightingale, Isabelle will rescue many before she's captured. Meanwhile, Viann’s journey from passive to active resistance is less dramatic but no less wrenching. Hannah vividly demonstrates how the Nazis, through starvation, intimidation and barbarity both casual and calculated, demoralized the French, engineering a community collapse that enabled the deportations and deaths of more than 70,000 Jews. Hannah’s proven storytelling skills are ideally suited to depicting such cataclysmic events, but her tendency to sentimentalize undermines the gravitas of this tale.

Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-57722-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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