WE MEASURE THE EARTH WITH OUR BODIES

A smart, sweeping story about the abuse and transformation of a culture stripped of its country.

The aftereffects of the oppression of Tibetans across two continents and six decades powers this domestic epic.

Lama’s debut novel opens in 1960, a decade after China’s invasion of Tibet and shortly after a quelled uprising and exile of the Dalai Lama. Lhamo and Tenkyi, two sisters, are forced to leave for a refugee camp in Nepal and orphaned not long after. From there, the girls’ paths diverge: Lhamo remains in Nepal as the camp becomes a tent city, has a daughter, and attempts to maintain the spiritual traditions stamped out by the Chinese. Bookish Tenkyi, meanwhile, leaves for Canada and, by 2012, takes in Lhamo’s daughter, Dolma, an aspiring scholar of Tibetan culture. The non-Tibetan academics Dolma meets are knowledgeable but also condescending, and Westerners’ callousness toward her heritage is symbolized by a statue of a “Nameless Saint” that Dolma believes is a stolen family heirloom. Dolma’s investigations bring her deeper into her family history, the ethically messy artifacts trade, and Tibetan spirituality, culminating in a trek to the edge of the country she’s exiled from. Lama’s delivery can be somewhat stiff—romantic interludes feel flat, and Dolma’s dialogue is sometimes sodden with explication of Tibetan political history and spiritual practice. But the novel thrives as a story about sisterhood, parenthood, and the heart-piercing feeling of exile. Dolma can’t bring herself to admire Toronto’s “Little Tibet” neighborhood, which she sees as a “copy of a copy of home. Another temporary stop in an endless journey.” (The frustrations are exemplified by Tenkyi's dashed hopes of becoming a teacher; she works as a hotel housekeeper.) And Lama wisely gives the novel multiple narrators—Lhamo, Tenkyi, Dolma, and Samphel, a childhood friend of the sisters—who capture the breadth of Tibetan culture and the range of emotional impacts of separation.

A smart, sweeping story about the abuse and transformation of a culture stripped of its country.

Pub Date: May 17, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-63557-641-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

GIRL ABROAD

A spicy novel that’s a must-read for fans of a British accent.

A rock star’s daughter decides to study abroad in search of her own experiences, finding romance and intrigue along the way.

For 19-year-old Abbey Bly, having a rock star for a father isn’t as glamorous as it seems. For one thing, she shares her name with Abbey Road, and for another, the only version of the famous Gunner Bly she knows is the helicopter parent she lives with in Nashville. Hoping to find her way outside her father’s sphere of influence, Abbey decides to spend a semester in London studying European history at Pembridge University. Promising to keep her father updated on every aspect of life abroad, Abbey heads to her shared apartment expecting to find three female roommates…only to find that she’s actually living with three men. Afraid that Gunner will order her home, Abbey decides to keep Lee, Jack, and Jamie’s gender a secret (lucky their names sound androgynous!) and sets her sights on adventure. While working on a research project about a mysterious painting and adapting to Britain’s drinking culture, Abbey finds time to explore a little romance despite her housemates’ strict no-fraternizing rule. First there’s Jack, a commitment-phobic Australian hottie who can’t seem to stay away from Abbey; then there’s Nate, a sexy bassist who keeps forgetting he’s taken. Toying with nonexclusive relationships and exploring her sexuality, Abbey can’t help but feel excited about all the experience she’s gaining, but has she really, truly found herself? Kennedy’s novel is a page-turner—who wouldn’t want to travel to a foreign country and meet interested potential lovers down the hall? Abbey is a relatable character who yearns to stand outside her father’s shadow, and though the love triangle is a focal point, it never outshines the heroine’s growth.

A spicy novel that’s a must-read for fans of a British accent.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2024

ISBN: 9781728299792

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Bloom Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024

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