THE IGUANA TREE

Stone’s debut literary fiction gives face and spirit, emotion and character, to those braving the deadly trail across our southern border, seeking only to find work, living only to be pursued as illegal immigrants.

Héctor has set out from Puerto Isadore, a bucolic village near Oaxaca, Mexico, paying a coyote to smuggle him into America. Héctor has left his wife Lilia and baby daughter Alejandra, who live with Lilia’s beloved grandmother, Crucita. Lilia loves her village life, but Héctor is adamant that happiness and prosperity lie north, and he stakes his life on his quest, enduring a claustrophobic cross-border ride in a welded-shut compartment secreted under a delivery truck. After finding kinship with Miguel, another pollo, Héctor follows Miguel to Edisto Island, S.C., where Miguel’s cousin, Pablo, provides safe haven and help finding work. Héctor is fortunate in his new employers, Lucas and Elizabeth, owners of a tree farm, who reward his hard work and dedication. However, Héctor's plans to save money to bring Lilia and Alejandra to America collapse when Crucita dies, and lonely Lilia defies Héctor's demands she wait. With the help of a childhood friend, Emanuel, Lilia begins an illicit journey that soon descends into horror. After being repeatedly raped by her coyote, Lilia’s coerced into leaving Alejandra at the border to be smuggled in later. The latter third of the novel deals powerfully with Alejandra’s disappearance, Lilia’s helplessness and Héctor’s rage and despair, with Stone’s narrative flowing inescapably toward realistic resolution. Each character resonates authentically, and the contrasts between idyllic but circumscribed life in Mexico, the bloody border and the welcome success hard work can bring to an appreciative immigrant is empathetically rendered. Stone has done exceptional work in making real the struggles and despair, the resolute discipline and hope, driving the desire to find a better life while also illuminating unexpected connections of near-familial love among people of difference cultures who live and work together. A haunting tale of hope and heartbreak.

 

Pub Date: March 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-891885-88-4

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Hub City Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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