Neither groundbreaking nor especially penetrating, this warmhearted tale offers comfort to anyone coping with the loss of a...

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HAVE YOU SEEN MARIE?

Best-selling Cisneros (Caramelo, 2002, etc.) chronicles a search for a runaway cat that turns into a way to work through grief and discover community.

When Rosalind arrives in San Antonio after a three-day drive from Washington state, her cat, Marie, promptly takes off. “Marie had cried the whole way,” says the narrator. “I felt like crying and taking off too. My mother had died a few months before.” You can hardly call this fiction, since Cisneros tells us in the afterword that she wrote it in the wake of her mother’s death, that “the real Marie eluded capture for over a week,” and that the illustrations by San Francisco-based artist Hernández are portraits of Cisneros’ actual neighbors in San Antonio. Indeed, the tang of real life gives some needed grit to a rather anodyne account. As the narrator and Rosalind canvass the neighborhood in search of Marie, they encounter well-meaning folks who want to help but are preoccupied with their own lives. “We can do a river search on horseback,” says one neighbor. “But my kid is coming over this weekend. Can you wait till next week?” A “jogger mom” pushing a runner’s baby carriage doesn’t even wait to hear their plea, and other people are sympathetic but wrapped up in their own pain: One lost her mother and brother within a year; another has a sister battling cancer. These glimpses of selfishness and sorrow make up for some overly whimsical moments when the seekers question squirrels, dogs and cats and imagine their responses. The deliberately informal, rough-edged illustrations give a nice sense of Cisneros’ multicultural, bohemian neighborhood, and only die-hard cynics would begrudge the author her sweet but predictable culminating scene in which the narrator finds solace in a sense of unity with the natural world.

Neither groundbreaking nor especially penetrating, this warmhearted tale offers comfort to anyone coping with the loss of a loved one.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-59794-6

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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