A strong debut though also flawed, most notably by inconsistency in voice. Usually, Reesa has the true perspective of a...

LAY THAT TRUMPET IN OUR HANDS

Real-life events of the burgeoning civil-rights movement of 1951 are blended with one white girl’s struggle to understand the murder of her black friend.

The South doesn’t get any deeper than Central Florida in 1951, especially for the McMahon family, northerners who came to Florida for the citrus business and have found a community both of cruel traditions and hope. Thirteen-year-old Reesa’s narrative begins with the brutal murder of her friend Marvin Cully. A surrogate big brother and employee of the McMahon’s, young Marvin is beaten to death by the Klan, who mistake him for someone else. Unfortunately, small-town Mayflower and the surrounding burgs are indeed Klan country, members coming from both law enforcement and the area’s most powerful families. The death of one black boy means nothing. Even the local FBI are in the pockets of, or at least sympathetic to, the Klan. The loss of innocence for Reesa (months tick by as Marvin’s murder goes unsolved) is played against the early struggles of Civil Rights as Thurgood Marshall visits the McMahons to investigate Marvin’s death. Reesa’s family becomes ever more involved as the Klan becomes more violent—the historically real bombings of black neighborhoods, synagogues, and Catholic churches in Miami that year are tied to McCarthy's characters, both fictional and real. When Reesa's little brother Ren is grazed by a Klan bullet, the McMahon family, with the help of Marvin’s parents, hatch a plan with the FBI to bring down the local Klan.

A strong debut though also flawed, most notably by inconsistency in voice. Usually, Reesa has the true perspective of a child; at other times McCarthy gives her an older, overly intellectual understanding of events—testament to the challenge of telling an intricate tale through the eyes of one unable to grasp all of life’s complexities.

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2002

ISBN: 0-553-80169-4

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2001

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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