Marcom writes unflinchingly about grotesque violence and the gritty nastiness of bodily functions, but too often lapses into...

First novel by a northern California–based writer chronicles the terrible plight of Armenians, including her own family, during the genocide war carried out by the Turks during WWI.

Between 1915–16, about a million and a half Armenians were murdered by Turkish forces as part of a ruthless campaign of what today might be called “ethnic cleansing.” The first genocide of the 20th century, the killing of the Armenians is clearly an antecedent to both the Holocaust and the brutal doings in the former Yugoslavia, with particular resonance for students of the latter. Like the events in Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia, the events in Anatolia pitted people who had once been neighbors, customers, and friends against one another in ethnic violence with a religious underpinning. Surprisingly, there has been very little fiction written about this terrible historical event. Marcom’s is the rare exception, and at its best it captures with coruscating force the intimate nature of a genocide committed by the people who used to live next to you. She has chosen an unusual structure, a tapestry of many vignettes that depict a shattered Armenian culture and way of life through the memories of victims and bystanders, those who hid, those who died, and those who tried vainly to help. Woven into this complicated structure are some recurring characters, chief among them Anaguil, a young girl who has watched her father and other men jailed and tortured; Sargis, a young would-be writer who, disguised as a woman, lives in near-total darkness in an attic. Leslie Davis, the American consul who reports truthfully on what he has seen but who still emerges as a supercilious and oversexed fool.

Marcom writes unflinchingly about grotesque violence and the gritty nastiness of bodily functions, but too often lapses into a stilted diction that is more ponderous than exotic. Still, her story has a certain brutal force that stays in the memory.

Pub Date: April 23, 2001

ISBN: 1-57322-186-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2001



Lunge-Larsen and Preus debut with this story of a flower that blooms for the first time to commemorate the uncommon courage of a girl who saves her people from illness. The girl, an Ojibwe of the northern woodlands, knows she must journey to the next village to get the healing herb, mash-ki- ki, for her people, who have all fallen ill. After lining her moccasins with rabbit fur, she braves a raging snowstorm and crosses a dark frozen lake to reach the village. Then, rather than wait for morning, she sets out for home while the villagers sleep. When she loses her moccasins in the deep snow, her bare feet are cut by icy shards, and bleed with every step until she reaches her home. The next spring beautiful lady slippers bloom from the place where her moccasins were lost, and from every spot her injured feet touched. Drawing on Ojibwe sources, the authors of this fluid retelling have peppered the tale with native words and have used traditional elements, e.g., giving voice to the forces of nature. The accompanying watercolors, with flowing lines, jewel tones, and decorative motifs, give stately credence to the story’s iconic aspects. (Picture book/folklore. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-90512-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1999



In his quest for easy moolah, Owen learns that the road to financial solvency can be rocky and fraught with work. Greene (Owen Foote, Soccer Star, 1998, etc.) touches upon the often-thorny issue of chores and allowances: Owen’s mom wants him to help out because he’s part of the family and not just for the money—while Owen wants the money without having to do tedious household chores. This universal dilemma leaves Owen without funds and eagerly searching for ways to make a quick buck. His madcap schemes range from original—a “free” toilet demonstration that costs 50 cents—to disastrous, as during the trial run of his children’s fishing video, Owen ends up hooking his ear instead of a trout. Enlisting the aid of his stalwart, if long-suffering, friend Joseph, the two form a dog-walking club that becomes vastly restricted in clientele after Owen has a close encounter with an incontinent, octogenarian canine. Ultimately, Owen learns a valuable lesson about work and money when an unselfish action is generously rewarded. These sudden riches motivate Owen to consider wiser investments for his money than plastic vomit. Greene’s crisp writing style and wry humor is on-target for young readers. Brief chapters revolving around a significant event or action and fast pacing are an effective draw for tentative readers. Weston’s (Space Guys!, p. 392, etc.) black-and-white illustrations, ranging in size from quarter- to full-page, deftly portray Owen’s humorous escapades. A wise, witty addition to Greene’s successful series. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2000

ISBN: 0-618-02369-0

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2000

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