by Sara Nović ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 5, 2022
A coming-of-age story that explores the complexities of community and the ways in which language defines us.
The author of America Is Immigrants (2019) and Girl at War (2015) goes deep into Deaf culture.
True biz is an expression in American Sign Language that has a variety of English translations—“for sure,” “seriously,” “no joke,” and “totally” among them. By using this phrase as her title, the author is underscoring the point that ASL is not just English rendered in hand gestures. It is, instead, a language with its own grammar, its own idioms, and its own stylistic flourishes. This presents Charlie Serrano with a challenge. The child of hearing parents, Charlie has a cochlear implant and has barely mastered the ASL alphabet when she transfers from her public high school to River Valley School for the Deaf. Headmistress February Waters—the hearing child of deaf parents—asks Austin Workman to help Charlie acclimate to her new environment. The fifth generation of his family to be deaf, Austin is something like aristocracy within his community. All of these characters are about to have a very tumultuous year. Nović is deaf, and her second novel might be regarded as part of the movement for stories about marginalized groups to be written by people who are themselves part of that group. Nović addresses a lot of topics here, from eugenics and racism to teen romance and middle-aged marital strife. The resulting narrative has an odd shape. The first half progresses at a very slow pace, and it’s heavy on exposition. Things start moving in the second half, and there’s a lot of action toward the end. The lessons in ASL and Deaf history interspersed throughout the text may keep the reader’s interest more than the story alone would.A coming-of-age story that explores the complexities of community and the ways in which language defines us.
Pub Date: April 5, 2022
Page Count: 400
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022
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SEEN & HEARD
by Kristin Hannah ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 6, 2024
A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.
When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.
Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024
Page Count: 480
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023
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by Rebecca Yarros ‧ RELEASE DATE: May 2, 2023
Read this for the action-packed plot, not character development or worldbuilding.
On the orders of her mother, a woman goes to dragon-riding school.
Even though her mother is a general in Navarre’s army, 20-year-old Violet Sorrengail was raised by her father to follow his path as a scribe. After his death, though, Violet's mother shocks her by forcing her to enter the elite and deadly dragon rider academy at Basgiath War College. Most students die at the War College: during training sessions, at the hands of their classmates, or by the very dragons they hope to one day be paired with. From Day One, Violet is targeted by her classmates, some because they hate her mother, others because they think she’s too physically frail to succeed. She must survive a daily gauntlet of physical challenges and the deadly attacks of classmates, which she does with the help of secret knowledge handed down by her two older siblings, who'd been students there before her. Violet is at the mercy of the plot rather than being in charge of it, hurtling through one obstacle after another. As a result, the story is action-packed and fast-paced, but Violet is a strange mix of pure competence and total passivity, always managing to come out on the winning side. The book is categorized as romantasy, with Violet pulled between the comforting love she feels from her childhood best friend, Dain Aetos, and the incendiary attraction she feels for family enemy Xaden Riorson. However, the way Dain constantly undermines Violet's abilities and his lack of character development make this an unconvincing storyline. The plots and subplots aren’t well-integrated, with the first half purely focused on Violet’s training, followed by a brief detour for romance, and then a final focus on outside threats.Read this for the action-packed plot, not character development or worldbuilding.
Pub Date: May 2, 2023
Page Count: 528
Publisher: Red Tower
Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2024
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