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

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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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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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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

THE RESCUE

High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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