A humorous, good-natured blueprint for saving the planet.

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Messages from Mother.... Earth Mother

A walk in the park sets off a mission to awaken humanity and save Earth, as Cromwell’s (If I Gave You God’s Phone Number, 2002) work weaves an argument for living in awareness of all life.

When her boyfriend announces a troubling decision that disrupts her world, Sarah turns to nature for comfort, only to discover that nature wants help in return. The rustically dressed woman who greets Sarah in the forest turns out to be Earth Mother, whose gentle, compassionate embrace melts Sarah’s pain and convinces her of the woman’s identity. Earth Mother has something to say to humanity (13 things, in fact) and invites Sarah to be the conduit. In the weekly conversations that follow, Earth Mother imparts observations, pleas and guidelines for living in greater harmony with her and with other people. Her messages cover familiar territory (respect the earth; plant trees) and some terrain that’s not typically associated with her—violence, conflict, competition, gratitude, etc. She’s not crazy about social media or the belittling of women, and she follows guidance for males with a pep talk for females. Earth Mother’s vision of the future is an innovative twist on Utopia, with renewable energy, biodegradable objects, telepathic communication and therapeutic criminal justice. The components might veer toward the simplistic—share food; sing; conserve “things that you’ve broken [Earth Mother’s] soil or skin to get”; leave her offerings of organically grown tobacco—but the cumulative effect isn’t trite. A self-styled “plant intuitive, sacred gardener and worm wrangler,” the author imbues her characters’ conversations with a convincing earnestness and ambition. Despite the instructional nature of the messages, Cromwell cloaks Earth Mother in lightheartedness and gives her an endearing predilection for corny jokes as well as messages of hope and love. 

A humorous, good-natured blueprint for saving the planet. 

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0971703230

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Pamoon Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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