BEYOND MOLASSES CREEK

An affecting drama about the unmoored life of a woman whose infant was kidnapped 40 years ago.

Ally Green has come back to her father’s house in North Carolina’s low country, but not soon enough to hear his deathbed wish that she settle down. Strange advice for a 60-year-old woman, but Ally has been running away for a long time. As a child she befriended Vesey Washington, the black boy who lived on the other side of the river. The two would fish together, swap secrets and dreams and comfortable silences. As Ally grew, she fell in love with Vesey; in the civil-rights–era South, those were dangerous feelings. She ran to college, and then to a career as a stewardess, and then when she had a child out of wedlock at the same time as Vesey and his wife, she flew with her baby to Kathmandu. There her baby was kidnapped, and Ally spends the next 38 years running away from the crushing heartache of that moment. It took her daddy’s death to bring her back to her childhood home, and to Vesey, now widowed across the river. Slid in between Ally’s story is Sunila’s journey. A blue-eyed Nepalese woman who has lived her whole life in debt bondage, she escapes the stone yard with a secret, and the book of drawings found with her as an infant. Sunila makes it to the American Embassy with an incredible story confessed by her adoptive mother: as a baby she was kidnapped from a young American in a café. The book was Ally’s journal, filled with sketches of Vesey. As Ally harbors vague romantic notions about Vesey, she also begins to recognize the holding pattern her life has been in, first for want of Vesey, and then her stolen daughter. Seitz allows her story to quietly unfold as the two women come together, guaranteeing a few tears, for the women and the reader.

 

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59554-505-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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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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Cheerfully engaging.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT

From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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