A BEAUTIFUL BOY by Susan Beth Miller
Kirkus Star


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Miller’s (Indigo Rose, 2005) novel tells a tale of survival and growth in a war-torn land.

Twenty-five-year-old Raissa lives with her family in a small African town marked by strife between the “Old People” and “New People.” When the Old People enact a plan to wipe all the New People out, Raissa’s family flees, but she stubbornly refuses to leave. She later hides under sheets of metal behind the house as a family of Old People—a soldier, Henri; his wife, Jacqueline; his sister, Giza; and his infant son, Olite—take over the space. After hearing that the new family needs a servant, Raissa disguises herself as a Muslim and gets hired by the family at a nearby market. Thus she becomes the caretaker of her own house, cooking and cleaning for the new residents and lovingly taking care of the child. But after the soldier’s cousin discovers her true identity, she chooses to run away rather than submit to his domination. She makes a little home for herself in a nearby forest and learns how to live on her own. But she’s haunted by the memory of Olite, and, against her better judgment, she returns to her house and kidnaps the child. She renames him “DoGood,” and they live at one with nature. The second half of the novel effectively traces the difficulties that Raissa and DoGood have in readjusting to the world—especially DoGood, who must confront his own lineage. Throughout, Miller’s prose is crisp and powerful, with evocative imagery and metaphors that are often stunning: “Her mind lets things slide in and out and does not catch them, as if she were a coral through which the sea’s waters flow.” As she develops her expertly crafted characters, she beautifully and compellingly considers pressing human questions regarding evil, motherhood, and the possibility of redemption.

A striking, searing work that will linger long in readers’ memories.

Page count: 177pp
Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2017


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