Though based in history, this novel is timely, addressing the human complexity of literal borders and figurative walls and...

ORANGE FOR THE SUNSETS

In 1972, the president of Uganda, Idi Amin, ordered the expulsion of the country’s “foreign Indians,” giving them 90 days to leave the country.

In alternating chapters, Athaide tells the story of best friends Asha, who is Indian, and Yesofu, who is African and whose mother is a servant in Asha’s home, as they navigate this xenophobic, nationalist chaos. Yesofu is influenced by Mamma’s words—“You and Asha are from different worlds,” she warns him—but Asha is determined to prove him wrong: “Black. Brown. Indian. African. She’d…[s]how him these differences didn’t matter.” Yet when Asha sees Yesofu “cheering, waving, and hollering” at an anti-Indian rally, she is hurt and confused. When, shortly after, at school during a heated argument, Yesofu snarls at her, “Don’t [my family] deserve more than being your slaves—don’t I?” Asha is incredulous. As the novel progresses, however, Yesofu, too, has misgivings about this Ugandan nationalism and the possible loss of his dearest friend. Drawing on Athaide’s own childhood experiences as a Ugandan-born British-Indian whose family was affected by the expulsion, the story does not shy from the violence and death of the episode. The use of the alternating perspectives helps readers unfamiliar with the era understand both it and the feelings on both sides; an author’s note provides further context.

Though based in history, this novel is timely, addressing the human complexity of literal borders and figurative walls and lives that are irrevocably and heartbreakingly changed in crises. (bibliography, further resources) (Historical fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-279529-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this...

HOLES

Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.).

Driven mad by the murder of her black beau, a schoolteacher turns on the once-friendly, verdant town of Green Lake, Texas, becomes feared bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow, and dies, laughing, without revealing where she buried her stash. A century of rainless years later, lake and town are memories—but, with the involuntary help of gangs of juvenile offenders, the last descendant of the last residents is still digging. Enter Stanley Yelnats IV, great-grandson of one of Kissin' Kate's victims and the latest to fall to the family curse of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; under the direction of The Warden, a woman with rattlesnake venom polish on her long nails, Stanley and each of his fellow inmates dig a hole a day in the rock-hard lake bed. Weeks of punishing labor later, Stanley digs up a clue, but is canny enough to conceal the information of which hole it came from. Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles.

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-374-33265-5

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

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