An imperfect flight of war-era fancy that still manages to stick the landing.

W.A.S.P.

SISTERS OF THE SKY

From the Sisters Of Adventure series , Vol. 1

A young pilot finds a way to serve her country and secure her own freedom in McLaren (Song of Time, 1996, etc.) and debut author Garcia’s historical novel.

As the Allies in World War II begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, the war in the sky takes center stage. Both German and Allied troops are racing to build a faster fighter jet that’s capable of clearing the way for their invading armies. In America, this results in Operation Archangel, a top-secret plan to corner the market on chromium—a metal needed to build supersonic jets—by any means necessary. Wallace Doyle, the son of the U.S. ambassador to Ireland, gets recruited by the Nazis to spy on the American operation. Meanwhile, Sprite Shannon, a young woman from rural Georgia, also gets caught up in the international game of espionage after her father’s death forces her to find a way to support herself with her piloting skills. She joins the Women’s Army Service Pilots, or W.A.S.P., and begins her training to become one of the first female military pilots in U.S. history. Along the way, she makes a mortal enemy of Doyle and unwittingly becomes involved in Operation Archangel—all while competing for status in her organization and falling in love with a shellshocked Air Force pilot. Although this book takes substantial liberties with World War II history, it weaves an exciting story around its central characters, whose lives constantly overlap in unexpected ways. Sprite is a likable protagonist who constantly beats the odds through determination and charm, and several other players are also well-drawn. The dialogue tends to be unfortunately on the nose, though, as in Sprite’s speech: “Seems like I’m different from the person I was even two weeks ago. I’ve always had responsibilities with keeping our house and helping Daddy in the business, and school, of course—but this feels so different. This is…what my father called my ‘destiny.’ ” However, it doesn’t usually slow the story down.

An imperfect flight of war-era fancy that still manages to stick the landing. 

Pub Date: June 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9975689-0-5

Page Count: 364

Publisher: Saphirion Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2016

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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