The tragic events of one summer create a tidal wave of consequences in Aster’s (True Love Story, 2013) poignant coming-of-age love story.
The summer of 1971 changes teenage Caroline Carson’s life forever. To outsiders, beautiful and bookish Caroline’s life seems perfect; in reality, it’s in shambles. Her alcoholic father has left without a trace, and her narcissistic mother soon follows suit, leaving Caroline to fend for herself. She turns to her first love, Isaiah Washington, an African-American, but finds no real comfort in him, as their interracialrelationship is forbidden. Being with Isaiah makes her the target of two violent youths, who assault Caroline and leave her for dead. Fearing for her life and in search of peace, she flees her small Tennessee town. The narrative then follows Caroline as she desperately tries to find a place to call home. A love story at its core, this intensely emotional novel connects to readers on many levels as it examines the ideas of family, identity and the complicated relationships that grew out of the civil rights movement. Caroline is wracked with grief and guilt, and while she desperately wants to find a place she belongs, part of her thinks she doesn’t deserve it. It’s a deeply personal journey that feels achingly real. Accompanying Caroline is a cast of wonderfully rich characters including cantankerous Dr. H, who cares for Caroline like no one she has ever known, and the wise, benevolent Ruby. The three form an unlikely family, whose love for and devotion to one another is a bright spot in an often sorrowful tale. An important, albeit painful, examination of racism in the 1970s, the novel remains hopeful. While it’s told primarily from Caroline’s perspective, it is at times narrated by Isaiah as he struggles first to find Caroline and then to forget her. Although he’s an essential character, his chapters somewhat lack the personality of Caroline’s, falling a little flat in comparison.
Deftly balances good with evil and reaffirms that sometimes love really does conquer all.
A highly organized, informative discussion of the immigration system in the United States.
In this politically charged environment, Afrasiabi manages to broach the volatile issue of immigration in a well-rounded, surprisingly effective framework that combines case studies, historical research, statistical analysis and personal anecdotes to detail the current issues and propose solutions. Invocations of Kafka, “The Twilight Zone” and “Alice in Wonderland” prove warranted as illustrations of the often surreal circumstances that confront immigrants facing deportation. Immigrants usually lack access to quality legal representation, while their situation can be made doubly difficult due to language barriers and significant cultural differences. Afrasiabi incorporates his work with colleagues and students at the Chapman University School of Law to deftly weave together the facts of several compelling cases and their underlying legal issues, with a genuine sense of suspense as readers wonder if justice will be truly be served. Occasionally, though, the narrative becomes overwrought—two federal laws passed in 1996 are “dark storm clouds depositing their sleet”—although, considering the life-changing effects of court decisions, it’s difficult to overstate the ramifications: extralegal rendition of individuals with pending cases and the de facto deportation of native-born children whose parents are deported. Afrasiabi also addresses the legacy of various anti-alien laws in California, as well as marriage equality for same-sex couples when one partner is a noncitizen. As the subtitle asserts, Afrasiabi employs his additional experience in the field of property law to contrast the stark differences between immigration judges and constitutional judges, like their qualifications, vetting processes and even the oaths they take. His arguments culminate in seven concrete reforms proposed in the conclusion. In order to make the immigration system more just and effective, Afrasiabi claims the solutions are closer than we may think; we can implement procedures and safeguards already in place within the constitutional courts.
A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.
Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.
Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.
Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.