Newcomer Kingsbury overdoes the homegrown dialect and detail in a story that’s ultimately unconvincing. Lots of steamy sex,...


Hot times in the Deep South.

Tomboy Haley Ellyson has grown into womanhood, and just about every male in the town of Houser Banks, Mississippi, appreciates the change—especially horse trainer Bo, who’s too old for 16-year-old Haley but can’t help rubbing up against her anyhow. Haley lets him, partly because she enjoys it and partly because the two share a terrible secret: she didn’t see Bo kill the young black man who attacked her drunken father, but she did help bury him. Meantime, she can’t help wandering by the messy pile of leaves and sticks and meditating on the meaning of it all. Old man Ellyson doesn’t remember a thing, but that’s nothing new. No one has to know, Bo reasons, and no one does besides him and Haley. So life goes on, and the young folks go on smoking, drinking, and fornicating, while Haley, a skilled rider, hangs around the stables and lets Bo rub up against her. There isn’t much else to do besides sit in the courthouse and watch benevolent Judge Greel preside over cases. The widowed Judge sent his son Fletcher to prep school in Connecticut, and, now that he’s back, he’s in love with Haley too. The two hang out with Haley’s friend Riley and Crystal, his black girlfriend, a blues-singing goddess, dancing the sultry nights away. Haley’s daddy sobers up for a bit when his live-in love Gwyneth miscarries their baby—and Haley feels like a motherless child all over again, especially since her real mama ran away several years ago. Fletcher offers what comfort he can: he’s struggling with memories of his own mother’s cancer death. Riley and Crystal’s affair is stirring up racial tensions that explode (sort of) when the shallow grave in the woods is finally found.

Newcomer Kingsbury overdoes the homegrown dialect and detail in a story that’s ultimately unconvincing. Lots of steamy sex, though, for those interested.

Pub Date: March 19, 2002

ISBN: 0-7432-2303-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2002

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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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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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