Pensive and lyrical; a closely observed story of cultures in collision.

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  • NBCC Gregg Barrios Book in Translation Prize Finalist

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A searing tale of contending gods, religions, and economies in colonial Rwanda.

As Mukasonga’s story opens, a village subchief, bribed by a "Colonial" with “a watch, a pair of sunglasses, a bottle of port wine, two jerry cans of gasoline, [and] a swath of fabric for his wife and daughters,” rounds up the children to serve in the war effort against Germany by harvesting anti-malarial flowers. Other agents of change follow: There are the European agronomists who come in to demand that the villagers replace their formerly diverse crops with beans and coffee, then the priests who come in to demand that they give up their “pagan” religious practices in favor of “Yezu.” Drought ensues, and with it the people starve, and with that they recall the old ways, when their king would sacrifice himself or one of his family. Kibogo, the legendary son of a king, offers himself up in one such sacrifice, volunteering in a long-ago time to climb a nearby mountain and call down the clouds in the face of sure death. That high country harbors others who are convinced of their magical powers. One is Akayezu, or “Little Jesus,” who enters a French seminary only to decide that he has divine powers of his own and, without waiting for ordination, preaches a gospel that “compared Kibogo rising to Heaven to Yezu’s ascension, Maria’s Assumption, and the abduction of the prophet Elijah on a pikipiki of thunder and flame.” Akayezu’s evangelization extends to a hermit who herself believes that she has a spirit within that “commands the rain.” When the rain does arrive, it comes in punishing torrents and violent thunderstorms that put terror in the hearts of the villagers: “Some jangled rosaries, others gourd rattles, or the bones of warthogs or of their ancestors.” It’s satisfying to see the colonial experts and intrusive priests get some measure of comeuppance while Kibogo makes his return to bring, finally, more sustaining rains, proving, as Mukasonga’s narrator has it, that “Kibogo too can shake the sky and set off the thunder: isn’t the tale of Kibogo equal to the tale of Yezu?”

Pensive and lyrical; a closely observed story of cultures in collision.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1953861-36-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Archipelago

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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The years pass by at a fast and steamy clip in Blume’s latest adult novel (Wifey, not reviewed; Smart Women, 1984) as two friends find loyalties and affections tested as they grow into young women. In sixth grade, when Victoria Weaver is asked by new girl Caitlin Somers to spend the summer with her on Martha’s Vineyard, her life changes forever. Victoria, or more commonly Vix, lives in a small house; her brother has muscular dystrophy; her mother is unhappy, and money is scarce. Caitlin, on the other hand, lives part of the year with her wealthy mother Phoebe, who’s just moved to Albuquerque, and summers with her father Lamb, equally affluent, on the Vineyard. The story of how this casual invitation turns the two girls into what they call "Summer sisters" is prefaced with a prologue in which Vix is asked by Caitlin to be her matron of honor. The years in between are related in brief segments by numerous characters, but mostly by Vix. Caitlin, determined never to be ordinary, is always testing the limits, and in adolescence falls hard for Von, an older construction worker, while Vix falls for his friend Bru. Blume knows the way kids and teens speak, but her two female leads are less credible as they reach adulthood. After high school, Caitlin travels the world and can’t understand why Vix, by now at Harvard on a scholarship and determined to have a better life than her mother has had, won’t drop out and join her. Though the wedding briefly revives Vix’s old feelings for Bru, whom Caitlin is marrying, Vix is soon in love with Gus, another old summer friend, and a more compatible match. But Caitlin, whose own demons have been hinted at, will not be so lucky. The dark and light sides of friendship breathlessly explored in a novel best saved for summer beachside reading.

Pub Date: May 8, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-32405-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

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