Kirkus Reviews QR Code
LEFT AT THE MANGO TREE by Stephanie Siciarz Kirkus Star


by Stephanie Siciarz

Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 2013
Publisher: Pink Moon Press

In this remarkable debut novel, a young girl named Almondine narrates the mystery of her own birth on the whimsical island of Oh.

In the tropical island country of Oh, Raoul Orlean wants to know two things: Who is his granddaughter’s true father, and where did the missing pineapples go? The decline of the pineapple trade has left an abundance of the prickly fruit; Raoul, the sole man at Oh’s international customs counter, can present one to every tourist who deplanes, and outside the airport, his friend Bang sells penknives for cutting the pineapples. Nat, owner of a fleet of mismatched vehicles, drives the tourists to and fro, most likely depositing them at Oh’s popular bar, the Buddha’s Belly, overseen by the jolly and generous Cougar. Raoul, Almondine’s grandfather, is troubled by her arrival in the world. She looks nothing like her faithful mother or father but everything like Gustave, the manager of a pineapple plantation. Raoul could dislike Gustave enough based on this suspicion, but then he awakens to a new surprise: Two acres of Gustave’s pineapple plantation have “disappeared” overnight. The country of Oh cries black magic. Raoul—and by extension, the Office of Customs and Excise, whose government export tax the disappearance avoids—cries foul. Aided by his favorite nonfiction detective books, he diligently sets out to find his granddaughter’s origin and the missing pineapples. Oh seems to be a place overflowing with gossip and magic, but Raoul’s friends and family might hold the answers. The novel is built upon Almondine’s incredible narration, as she coyly pulls the reader along on these tandem mysteries, weaving in and out of her family’s stories and secrets. Her witty, pun-filled language and swift storytelling imbue the novel with charm, yet for all the back stories and interweaving, Almondine is careful to keep readers by her side as she unravels the detailed story of her grandfather and his friends. Siciarz has a talent as plentiful as Oh’s pineapples, and readers will hunger for more.

A tropical feast of charming, clever characters, smart storytelling and just the right amount of magic.