A heroic tale of a man’s journey to success despite the challenges of his time.

THE ALABAMA REBEL

A NOVEL OF COURAGE AMID CONFLICT

A historical novel that portrays the tensions that surrounded the Civil War in the South.

Historian Roe (The Gaelic Letters, 2010, etc) delivers yet another sweeping tale of war-torn lands and coming-of-age. River Hunter, the son of a Cherokee mother and Scotch-Irish father, is a 16-year-old boy with a fourth-grade education. He moves with his family to Alabama to escape the ordered removal of Native Americans during the Civil War. River grew up without his father, who disappeared in the Carolina mountains, and he’s stuck with an abusive, alcoholic stepfather. In order to provide for his family, River turns to nature and hunts only what he needs, determined to pay nature the same respect it shows him. Nature responds in kind—the animals that River needs to feed his family gather around him, making the hunt swift and fruitful. As he pursues higher education, River continues to dress in his traditional Native garb, wearing deer skins despite his joining a society of strangers. The young man has to confront the reality of the times: Many people are suspicious of his Native American background, and they make no effort to hide it. Soon enough, however, River wins them over with his honesty and strength of character. Unfortunately, he isn’t successful in charming the family of his first love, Sarah, who, because of her family’s disapproval, marries another. River studies at the university, where he makes friends with the unlikeliest of people and advances farther than anyone predicted. The Civil War soon disrupts his academics. River and his friends join the Confederate Army, where the higher-ups notice River’s bravery and promote him through the ranks until he makes captain. A heartwarming tale of courage and triumph, this well-written, lyrical story ties together the physical war of the time and the wars within ourselves. River’s achievements, brought about through determination and hard work, inspire and captivate. Through his integrity, he appeals to everyone around him, as well as to the reader. This love story stands out for its historic richness and memorable protagonist.

A heroic tale of a man’s journey to success despite the challenges of his time. 

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1935991816

Page Count: 286

Publisher: Signalman Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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