A self-aware political tale for the present day.

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#WALK

A debut philosophical novel tells the story of an insurgent popular political movement.

In #Walk by Ovid House, the characters are reading a volume called #Walk by an author named Ovid House. The back of this work within a work asserts: “This book was written by Ovid House. Ovid House is you, the reader of this novel. The person who wrote this book wants you to see yourself as its author.” The novel calls for a movement to pass an amendment to the Constitution that would make all Americans members of the House of Representatives, increasing their democratic clout. The book becomes a phenomenon. Adherents to its ideas chant and march, spreading the doctrine and alarming the powers that be. All of the supporters identify as Ovid House, just as the book encourages them to do. Eric Rane, the actual author, never intended it to become a real movement, and hides from the world. His ex-girlfriend, Karen Drake, founds an Ovid House-based organization and becomes the movement’s unlikely leader. Jessica Morris is a college student and true believer who sets up an Ovid House chapter at her university. The movement is nonviolent and expresses itself primarily through creativity, but simply questioning the status quo makes it a target for attack from all sides. The difficulties of participating in a crusade with an anonymous leader that encourages everyone to contribute ideas quickly become apparent, as does the tenacity with which the influential in society attempt to keep the movement from spreading. Eric becomes convinced that the real Ovid House must step forward to lead his followers, but is he even the authentic Ovid House anymore? Can his devotees—the many faces of Ovid House—hold together to achieve their revolutionary goals? Author House’s prose is simple and direct, with many nods to the book’s metafictional flourishes. “It’s more entertaining than you’d expect,” says one character, when asked to describe the novel (wink, wink). Appropriately for a work about a grass-roots movement, the author includes places for readers to add their own input: “[Missing chapters: Combine any number of chapters from this work with your own chapters to write a novella about Eric and Karen’s relationship. Submit your novella on Ovidhouse.com.]” The primary engine for the plot is dialogue, usually between two or three of the characters, that gives voice to various concerns of the movement. As such, the characters never feel quite real, more like puppets that the author is using to get his ideas on paper. Even so, more than political philosophy, they discuss their desires and fears at great length, particularly feelings of inadequacy and hopes for a better future. The dialogue is a little stilted, and the movement’s opposition often come across as quite cartoonish, but readers will clearly recognize many strands from recent contemporary life—Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, Bernie Sanders supporters, the Resistance—as well as debates about campus protest culture and political civility. Is this the launching work of a new revolution, though? Probably not. But we’ll see.

A self-aware political tale for the present day.

Pub Date: March 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-73219-365-9

Page Count: 324

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

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A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

A WEEK AT THE SHORE

A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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