A mostly engaging story of sticking up for one’s own beliefs, aimed at young readers interested in questions of social...

MADDIE & SAYARA

A spunky 13-year-old girl challenges the sexist laws of another country in this middle-grade novel of girl power and social justice.

Maddie is on vacation in the Bahamas when she first meets Sayara. They have several things in common: they’re the same age; they both find their little brothers annoying; and they both have doting nannies. Their friendship is cut short, though, when Sayara must return to the unnamed kingdom where she lives, because her beloved cousin Themi has been arrested for driving while female. Maddie is incensed at this and a host of other unfair laws that Sayara must deal with. She vows to go to any lengths to help her friend—even if it means using her mother’s airline miles to book a ticket to the kingdom. On her flight, she meets Alisha, a native of the kingdom who left because of the oppressive societal strictures. She lends Maddie a garment called a “tent,” which all women are required to wear. When Maddie arrives at the kingdom, the “FP,” or Faith Police, are angry that she doesn’t have a man accompanying her; Alisha’s husband swoops in to help, and the family takes Maddie in. Soon her mission to help Sayara is revealed, and despite the risks, Alisha and her family agree to help. Overall, Maddie is an enjoyable and bright first-person narrator with a voice that’s imbued with all the attitude and passion of an authentic teenage girl. It’s also a pleasure to encounter the many grown-ups in her life who inspire her, from her independent Aunt AK (“I’ve always wanted to be like her,” Maddie says. “She’s not only pretty on the outside, but really kind on the inside”) to her forgiving father and Alisha’s wise parents. Some of the dialogue about the injustices in the kingdom is heavy-handed; for example, Themi’s impassioned speech about the unfair laws goes on for more than five pages. But despite the unsubtle messaging, the escalating drama and Maddie’s energetic narration will keep readers turning pages.

A mostly engaging story of sticking up for one’s own beliefs, aimed at young readers interested in questions of social justice.

Pub Date: July 23, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943967-88-9

Page Count: 190

Publisher: Full Circle Media

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2017

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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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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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