A sweet tale of friendship that will educate readers about life in a Civil War camp.

THE DRUMMER'S CALL

A TIME TRAVEL ADVENTURE

In Leppo’s debut YA novel, a teenage boy from 2012 time-travels 150 years into the past and becomes a drummer in the Union army.

For young Josh, an extended vacation full of chores in rural Tennessee sounds like a complete nightmare. Following his father’s death, Josh’s mother took the family—which also includes his sister, Evie—to their aunt and uncle’s historic inn, promising to help the older couple refurbish the building. Despite his initial reservations, Josh becomes charmed by the inn’s residents, who like to share tales of history. One night, he hears a strange drumming sound and encounters a young man named Tobias (nicknamed “Toby”) in the inn’s basement; he later realizes that it’s the ghost of his ancestor, whose father was anti-slavery and fought for the Union. After several encounters with Toby, Josh finds himself transported back to 1862, where he embarks on a quest to enlist in the Union army as a drummer boy. Leppo relates the Civil War-era narrative from a modern perspective that allows her to make commentary that may make the story feel more relevant to the book’s young audience. When Toby marvels at modern-day technological conveniences, Josh remarks, “Even though we have lots of things that make life easier, your life now is a whole lot less complicated….Where I come from most people spend all day at work or school, and families hardly see each other.” Although the book’s prose is straightforward and easy to read, it begins slowly and is somewhat heavy with exposition. However, once Josh joins Toby in the past, it’s difficult not to become invested in their fates. The characters in the Union camp are endearing, and scenes of army life are informative and intriguing. The time that Josh spends in battle is minimal and the descriptions aren’t overtly graphic, but Leppo does convey the grisly nature of war through conversations with affected characters. The story glosses over the logistical problems inherent in time-travel pieces, hinging the plot on supernatural forces. The ending is satisfying enough, however, to excuse any potential paradoxes.

A sweet tale of friendship that will educate readers about life in a Civil War camp.

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9998798-0-1

Page Count: 326

Publisher: AllieBee Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2018

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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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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