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Oprah's Book Club
2014
The Invention of Wings
Book Jacket   Sue Monk Kidd
2013
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
Book Jacket   Ayana Mathis
 
2012
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
 Cheryl Strayed
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780307592736 Strayed delves into memoir after her fiction debut, Torch. She here recounts her experience hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in 1995 after her mother's death and her own subsequent divorce. Designated a National Scenic Trail in 1968 but not completed until 1993, the PCT runs from Mexico to Canada, and Strayed hiked sections of it two summers after it was officially declared finished. She takes readers with her on the trail, and the transformation she experiences on its course is significant: she goes from feeling out of her element with a too-big backpack and too-small boots to finding a sense of home in the wilderness and with the allies she meets along the way. Readers will appreciate her vivid descriptions of the natural wonders near the PCT, particularly Mount Hood, Crater Lake, and the Sierras-what John Muir proclaimed the "Range of Light." VERDICT This book is less about the PCT and more about Strayed's own personal journey, which makes the story's scope a bit unclear. However, fans of her novel will likely enjoy this new book. [See Prepub Alert, 10/1/11.]-Karen McCoy, Northern Arizona Univ. Lib., Flagstaff (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780307592736 In the summer of 1995, at age 26 and feeling at the end of her rope emotionally, Strayed resolved to hike solo the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,663-mile wilderness route stretching from the Mexican border to the Canadian and traversing nine mountain ranges and three states. In this detailed, in-the-moment re-enactment, she delineates the travails and triumphs of those three grueling months. Living in Minneapolis, on the verge of divorcing her husband, Strayed was still reeling from the sudden death four years before of her mother from cancer; the ensuing years formed an erratic, confused time "like a crackling Fourth of July sparkler." Hiking the trail helped decide what direction her life would take, even though she had never seriously hiked or carried a pack before. Starting from Mojave, Calif., hauling a pack she called the Monster because it was so huge and heavy, she had to perform a dead lift to stand, and then could barely make a mile an hour. Eventually she began to experience "a kind of strange, abstract, retrospective fun," meeting the few other hikers along the way, all male; jettisoning some of the weight from her pack and burning books she had read; and encountering all manner of creature and acts of nature from rock slides to snow. Her account forms a charming, intrepid trial by fire, as she emerges from the ordeal bruised but not beaten, changed, a lone survivor. Agent: Janet Silver, Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Agency. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780307592736 Echoing the ever-popular search for wilderness salvation by Chris McCandless (Back to the Wild, 2011) and every other modern-day disciple of Thoreau, Strayed tells the story of her emotional devastation after the death of her mother and the weeks she spent hiking the 1,100-mile Pacific Crest Trail. As her family, marriage, and sanity go to pieces, Strayed drifts into spontaneous encounters with other men, to the consternation of her confused husband, and eventually hits rock bottom while shooting up heroin with a new boyfriend. Convinced that nothing else can save her, she latches onto the unlikely idea of a long solo hike. Woefully unprepared (she fails to read about the trail, buy boots that fit, or pack practically), she relies on the kindness and assistance of those she meets along the way, much as McCandless did. Clinging to the books she lugs along Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor, Adrienne Rich Strayed labors along the demanding trail, documenting her bruises, blisters, and greater troubles. Hiker wannabes will likely be inspired. Experienced backpackers will roll their eyes. But this chronicle, perfect for book clubs, is certain to spark lively conversation.--Mondor, Colleen Copyright 2010 Booklist
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  Book Jacket
2010
A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations
 Charles Dickens
  Book Jacket
 
2010
Freedom
Book Jacket   Jonathan Franzen
2009
Say Youre One of Them
Book Jacket   Uwem Akpan
 
2008
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
 David Wroblewski
  Book Jacket
2008
A New Earth
 Eckhart Tolle
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780525948025 Tolle follows up his successful The Power of Now-it's sold two million copies worldwide since 1997-with a plea to reject egotistic ways for a new form of consciousness. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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  Book Jacket
 
2007
Pillars of the Earth
Book Jacket   Ken Follett
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780688046590 A mystifying puzzle involving the execution of an innocent man is interwoven into this monumental story of medieval intrigue and ingenuity.
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780688046590 A radical departure from Follett's novels of international suspense and intrigue, this chronicles the vicissitudes of a prior, his master builder, and their community as they struggle to build a cathedral and protect themselves during the tumultuous 12th century, when the empress Maud and Stephen are fighting for the crown of England after the death of Henry I. The plot is less tightly controlled than those in Follett's contemporary works, and despite the wealth of historical detail, especially concerning architecture and construction, much of the language as well as the psychology of the characters and their relationships remains firmly rooted in the 20th century. This will appeal more to lovers of exciting adventure stories than true devotees of historical fiction. Literary Guild dual main selection.-- Cynthia Johnson Whealler, Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, Mass. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780688046590 With this book, Follett risks all and comes out a clear winner, escaping the narrow genre of suspense thrillers to take credit for a historical novel of gripping readability, authentic atmosphere and detail and memorable characterization. Set in 12th-century England, the narrative concerns the building of a cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge. The ambitions of three men merge, conflict and collide through four decades during which social and political upheaval and the internal politics of the church affect the progress of the cathedral and the fortunes of the protagonists. The insightful portrayals of an idealistic master builder, a pious, dogmatic but compassionate prior and an unscrupulous, ruthless bishop are balanced by those of a trio of independent, resourceful women (one of them quite loathesome) who can stand on their own as memorable characters in any genre. Beginning with a mystery that casts its shadow on ensuing events, the narrative is a seesaw of tension in which circumstances change with shocking but true-to-life unpredictability. Follett's impeccable pacing builds suspense in a balanced narrative that offers action, intrigue, violence and passion as well as the step-by-step description of an edifice rising in slow stages, its progress tied to the vicissitudes of fortune and the permutations of evolving architectural style. Follett's depiction of the precarious balance of power between monarchy and religion in the Middle Ages, and of the effects of social upheavals and the forces of nature (storms, famines) on political events; his ability to convey the fine points of architecture so that the cathedral becomes clearly visualized in the reader's mind; and above all, his portrayals of the enduring human emotions of ambition, greed, bravery, dedication, revenge and love, result in a highly engrossing narrative. Manipulating a complex plot in which the characters interact against a broad canvas of medieval life, Follett has written a novel that entertains, instructs and satisfies on a grand scale. 400,000 first printing; $400,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild main dual selection; author tour. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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2007
Love in the Time of Cholera
Book Jacket   Gabriel Garcia Marquez
 
2007
The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography
 Sidney Poitier
  Book Jacket
2007
Middlesex: A Novel
 Jeffrey Eugenides
  Book Jacket
 
2007
The Road
Book Jacket   Cormac McCarthy
2006
Night
Book Jacket   Elie Wiesel
 
2005
A Million Little Pieces
 James Frey
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780385507752 Who are you if you wake up on a plane, you don't know where it's going or where you've been, your front four teeth are gone, blood is all over your face and hands, and there's a hole the size of a finger in your cheek? You are Frey, 23, an alcoholic since ten and a crackhead for about as long, as well as a criminal wanted in three states, and you are just about to realize that you are fucked-royally. So, where do you go from here? Frey learns that his plane is going to Chicago, where his parents will meet him in a last-ditch attempt to convince him to go into rehab, and he agrees, knowing that there might not be another chance to say yes. He tells the rest of his story in the same gruesome detail, reconstructing how he got clean and sober. Although facets of Alcoholics Anonymous helped him, he ultimately rejects the 12-step program as anything he would be able to use, preferring to see his alcoholism as a personal weakness rather than a disease. Whatever his choices, they were effective enough to keep him sober for the last nine years. Luckily, he had many brain cells to spare, as this raw and intense book reveals a rare author whose approach to memoir writing is as original as his method to getting straight. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/02.]-Rachel Collins, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780385507752 At 23, Frey allowed his parents to check him into a rehabilitation facility in Minnesota. An alcoholic and a crack addict, Frey had hit absolute rock bottom. The doctor at the rehab center told him another drinking binge might kill him. To Frey, who was vomiting blood and dreaming of copious amounts of drugs and alcohol, there didn't seem to be another option. And then, on the night he attempted his escape from the center, a fellow patient named Leonard stopped him. And thus began the horrible, hard climb to sobriety. Frey was inundated with success stories and 12-step dogma, but he continued to resist both AA and the idea that only a belief in a higher power can save someone who has fallen so far. Leonard remained a constant friend in Frey's struggle, sharing the story of his own tragic past and bolstering Frey's determination. Frey found a different kind of support in Lilly, a vulnerable young woman with whom he fell in love. Anger, hurt, love, and pain are all laid bare; his writing style is as naked and forthright as the raw emotions that life in the rehab center brings to the surface. Starkly honest and mincing no words, Frey bravely faces his struggles head on, and readers will be mesmerized by his account of his ceaseless battle against addiction. Kristine Huntley
School Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780385507752 Adult/High School-Frey's high school and college years are a blur of alcohol and drugs, culminating in a full-fledged crack addiction at age 23. As the book begins, his fed-up friends have convinced an airline to let him on the plane and shipped him off to his parents, who promptly put him in Hazelden, the rehabilitation clinic with the greatest success rate, 20 percent. Frey doesn't shy away from the gory details of addiction and recovery; all of the bodily fluids make major appearances here. What really separates this title from other rehab memoirs, apart from the author's young age, is his literary prowess. He doesn't rely on traditional indentation, punctuation, or capitalization, which adds to the nearly poetic, impressionistic detail of parts of the story. Readers cannot help but feel his sickness, pain, and anger, which is evident through his language. Ken Kesey's One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (Viking, 1962) seems an apt comparison for this work-Frey maintains his principles and does not respect authority at all if it doesn't follow his beliefs. And fellow addicts are as much, if not more, help to him than the clinicians who are trying to preach the 12 steps, which he does not intend to follow in his path to sobriety. This book is highly recommended for teens interested in the darker side of human existence.-Jamie Watson, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780385507752 Frey is pretender to the throne of the aggressive, digressive, cocky Kings David: Eggers and Foster Wallace. Pre-pub comparisons to those writers spring not from Frey's writing but from his attitude: as a recent advance profile put it, the 33-year-old former drug dealer and screenwriter "wants to be the greatest literary writer of his generation." While the Davids have their faults, their work is unquestionably literary. Frey's work is more mirrored surface than depth, but this superficiality has its attractions. With a combination of upper-middle-class entitlement, street credibility garnered by astronomical drug intake and PowerPoint-like sentence fragments and clipped dialogue, Frey proffers a book that is deeply flawed, too long, a trial of even the most nave reader's credulousness-yet its posturings hit a nerve. This is not a new story: boy from a nice, if a little chilly, family gets into trouble early with alcohol and drugs and stays there. Pieces begins as Frey arrives at Hazelden, which claims to be the most successful treatment center in the world, though its success rate is a mere 17%. There are flashbacks to the binges that led to rehab and digressions into the history of other patients: a mobster, a boxer, a former college administrator, and Lilly, his forbidden love interest, a classic fallen princess, former prostitute and crack addict. What sets Pieces apart from other memoirs about 12-stepping is Frey's resistance to the concept of a higher power. The book is sure to draw criticism from the recovery community, which is, in a sense, Frey's great gimmick. He is someone whose problems seem to stem from being uncomfortable with authority, and who resists it to the end, surviving despite the odds against him. The prose is repetitive to the point of being exasperating, but the story, with its forays into the consciousness of an addict, is correspondingly difficult to put down. (Apr. 15) Forecast: Gus Van Sant, director of Drugstore Cowboy and Good Will Hunting, is negotiating to bring Pieces to the screen, so wise readers will not commit to 400 pages but wait for the 96-minute version, but booksellers should stock up as the chiseled Frey hits the interview circuit. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780385507752 An alcoholic and crack addict so physically mauled by his indulgences that doctors marveled that he was still alive, Frey finally cleaned himself up at age 23. Here he takes full responsibility for nearly destroying himself. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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  Book Jacket
2005
As I Lay Dying
 William Faulkner
  Book Jacket
 
2005
The Sound and the Fury
Book Jacket   William Faulkner
2005
Light in August
Book Jacket   William Faulkner
 
2004
The Good Earth
 Pearl Buck
  Book Jacket
2004
Anna Karenina
 Leo Tolstoy
  Book Jacket
 
2004
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Book Jacket   Carson McCullers
2004
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Book Jacket   Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780679444657 Two modern giants (LJ 2/15/70 and LJ 11/1/61, respectively) join Knopf's venerable "Everyman's Library." If you've been searching for quality hardcovers of these two eternally popular titles, look no further. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2003
Cry, the Beloved Country
 Alan Paton
  Book Jacket
2003
East of Eden
 John Steinbeck
  Book Jacket
 
2002
Sula
Book Jacket   Toni Morrison
2002
Fall on Your Knees
Book Jacket   Ann-Marie MacDonald
 
2001
A Fine Balance
 Rohinton Mistry
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780679446088 The setting of Mistry's quietly magnificent second novel (after the acclaimed Such a Long Journey) is India in 1975-76, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, defying a court order calling for her resignation, declares a state of emergency and imprisons the parliamentary opposition as well as thousands of students, teachers, trade unionists and journalists. These events, along with the government's forced sterilization campaign, serve as backdrop for an intricate tale of four ordinary people struggling to survive. Naïve college student Maneck Kohlah, whose parents' general store is failing, rents a room in the house of Dina Dalal, a 40-ish widowed seamstress. Dina acquires two additional boarders: hapless but enterprising itinerant tailor Ishvar Darji and his nephew Omprakash, whose father, a village untouchable, was murdered as punishment for crossing caste boundaries. With great empathy and wit, the Bombay-born, Toronto-based Mistry evokes the daily heroism of India's working poor, who must cope with corruption, social anarchy and bureaucratic absurdities. Though the sprawling, chatty narrative risks becoming as unwieldy as the lives it so vibrantly depicts, Mistry combines an openness to India's infinite sensory detail with a Dickensian rendering of the effects of poverty, caste, envy, superstition,corruption and bigotry. His vast, wonderfully precise canvas poses, but cannot answer, the riddle of how to transform a corrupt, ailing society into a healthy one. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780679446088 In mid-1970s urban India-a chaos of wretchedness on the streets and slogans in the offices-a chain of circumstances tosses four varied individuals together in one small flat. Stubbornly independent Dina, widowed early, takes in Maneck, the college-aged son of a more prosperous childhood friend and, more reluctantly, Ishvar and Om, uncle and nephew tailors fleeing low-caste origins and astonishing hardships. The reader first learns the characters' separate, compelling histories of brief joys and abiding sorrows, then watches as barriers of class, suspicion, and politeness are gradually dissolved. Even more affecting than Mistry's depictions of squalor and grotesque injustice is his study of friendships emerging unexpectedly, naturally. The novel's coda is cruel and heart-wrenching but deeply honest. This unforgettable book from the author of Such a Long Journey (LJ 4/15/91) is highly recommended.-Janet Ingraham, Worthington P.L., Ohio (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Choice Copyright American Library Association, used with permission. 9780679446088 A worthy successor to Mistry's award-winning Such a Long Journey, this wonderful, baggy, Dickensian narrative follows the fortunes of an independent widow, a college student, and two impoverished tailors who share a crowded apartment. The novel includes a large cast of memorable characters, whose stories range from brutal caste struggles in small villages to homelessness in flimsy shacks surrounding the sprawling city teeming with pavement dwellers, beggars, rent collectors, con men, and corrupt police. The novel's world is often cruel and unfeeling, but the characters struggle on, trying to achieve lives of dignity and meaning. Valmik (proofreader and sometime flack for a bogus guru) provides the novel's title: "The secret of life was to balance hope and despair." The Vishram Vegetarian Hotel cook tells the tailors, "You fellows are amazing.... Each time you come here you have a new adventure story." "It's not us; it's this city," replies the tailor, "a story factory, that's what it is, a spinning mill." Mistry's humorous and compassionate tangle of tales and characters is a story factory, too. And we listen spellbound to a master story spinner at work. D. R. Stoddard Anne Arundel Community College
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780679446088 The setting of Mistry's quietly magnificent second novel (after the acclaimed Such a Long Journey) is India in 1975-76, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, defying a court order calling for her resignation, declares a state of emergency and imprisons the parliamentary opposition as well as thousands of students, teachers, trade unionists and journalists. These events, along with the government's forced sterilization campaign, serve as backdrop for an intricate tale of four ordinary people struggling to survive. Naïve college student Maneck Kohlah, whose parents' general store is failing, rents a room in the house of Dina Dalal, a 40-ish widowed seamstress. Dina acquires two additional boarders: hapless but enterprising itinerant tailor Ishvar Darji and his nephew Omprakash, whose father, a village untouchable, was murdered as punishment for crossing caste boundaries. With great empathy and wit, the Bombay-born, Toronto-based Mistry evokes the daily heroism of India's working poor, who must cope with corruption, social anarchy and bureaucratic absurdities. Though the sprawling, chatty narrative risks becoming as unwieldy as the lives it so vibrantly depicts, Mistry combines an openness to India's infinite sensory detail with a Dickensian rendering of the effects of poverty, caste, envy, superstition,corruption and bigotry. His vast, wonderfully precise canvas poses, but cannot answer, the riddle of how to transform a corrupt, ailing society into a healthy one. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780679446088 In mid-1970s urban India-a chaos of wretchedness on the streets and slogans in the offices-a chain of circumstances tosses four varied individuals together in one small flat. Stubbornly independent Dina, widowed early, takes in Maneck, the college-aged son of a more prosperous childhood friend and, more reluctantly, Ishvar and Om, uncle and nephew tailors fleeing low-caste origins and astonishing hardships. The reader first learns the characters' separate, compelling histories of brief joys and abiding sorrows, then watches as barriers of class, suspicion, and politeness are gradually dissolved. Even more affecting than Mistry's depictions of squalor and grotesque injustice is his study of friendships emerging unexpectedly, naturally. The novel's coda is cruel and heart-wrenching but deeply honest. This unforgettable book from the author of Such a Long Journey (LJ 4/15/91) is highly recommended.-Janet Ingraham, Worthington P.L., Ohio (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Choice Copyright American Library Association, used with permission. 9780679446088 A worthy successor to Mistry's award-winning Such a Long Journey, this wonderful, baggy, Dickensian narrative follows the fortunes of an independent widow, a college student, and two impoverished tailors who share a crowded apartment. The novel includes a large cast of memorable characters, whose stories range from brutal caste struggles in small villages to homelessness in flimsy shacks surrounding the sprawling city teeming with pavement dwellers, beggars, rent collectors, con men, and corrupt police. The novel's world is often cruel and unfeeling, but the characters struggle on, trying to achieve lives of dignity and meaning. Valmik (proofreader and sometime flack for a bogus guru) provides the novel's title: "The secret of life was to balance hope and despair." The Vishram Vegetarian Hotel cook tells the tailors, "You fellows are amazing.... Each time you come here you have a new adventure story." "It's not us; it's this city," replies the tailor, "a story factory, that's what it is, a spinning mill." Mistry's humorous and compassionate tangle of tales and characters is a story factory, too. And we listen spellbound to a master story spinner at work. D. R. Stoddard Anne Arundel Community College
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  Book Jacket
2001
The Corrections
 Jonathan Franzen
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780374129989 In this novel of breathtaking virtuosity, Franzen, whose debut, The Twenty-Seventh City, chronicled corruption and decline in St. Louis, MO, presents the dysfunctional Lambert family. Enid Lambert's husband, Al, a retired engineer, is going downhill fasthis Parkinson's disease is so bad that he has trouble sitting in a chair. The rest of the family isn't doing much better. The oldest son, Gary, a banker, is depressed and suicidal; Chip has just been fired from his teaching job; and Denise, a superstar chef at a trendy Philadelphia restaurant, is sexually involved with both her boss and his wife. The family is experiencing a series of lifestyle corrections analogous to sudden downturns in the stock market, and Enid tries to rebound by hosting an old-fashioned Christmas at their Midwestern home. From this soap opera premise, Franzen constructs a brilliant novel of ideas that compares the emerging postmodern America (East Coast) to the quickly disappearing traditional America (Midwest), with digressions on railroad history, pharmacology, post-glasnost politics, culinary trends, celebrity culture, and Wall Street. Wisely, Franzen pitches the book not as a polemic but as a farce, and the result is laugh-out-loud funny. Best of all, everything neatly dovetails, so that each digression seems immediately relevant to the main story. Recommended for all fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/01.]Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780374129989 As her husband's health deteriorates, Enid faces the disappointments in her life including her three grown children. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780374129989 Ferociously detailed, gratifyingly mind-expanding, and daringly complex and unhurried, New Yorker writer Franzen's third and best-yet novel aligns the spectacular dysfunctions of one Midwest family with the explosive malfunctions of society-at-large. Alfred's simple values were in perfect accord with the iron orderliness of the railroad he so zealously served, but he is now discovering the miseries and entropy of Parkinson's disease. His wife, Enid, who has filled every cupboard and closet in their seemingly perfect house with riotous clutter in an unconscious response to her hunger for deeper experience, refuses to accept the severity of Alfred's affliction. Gary, the most uptight and bossiest of their unmoored adult offspring, is so undermined by his ruthlessly strategic wife that he barely avoids a nervous breakdown. Chip loses a plum academic job after being seduced and betrayed by a student, then nearly loses his life in Lithuania after perpetuating some profoundly cynical Internet fraud. And Denise detonates her career as a trendy chef by having an affair with her boss' wife. Heir in scope and spirit to the great nineteenth-century novelists, Franzen is also kin to Stanley Elkin with his caustic humor, satiric imagination, and free-flowing empathy as he mocks the absurdity and brutality of consumer culture. At once miniaturistic and panoramic, Franzen's prodigious comedic saga renders family life on an epic scale and captures the decadence of the dot-com era. Each cleverly choreographed fiasco stands as a correction to the delusions that precipitated it, and each step back from the brink of catastrophe becomes a move toward hope, integrity, and love. Donna Seaman
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780374129989 If some authors are masters of suspense, others postmodern verbal acrobats, and still others complex-character pointillists, few excel in all three arenas. In his long-awaited third novel, Franzen does. Unlike his previous works, The 27th City (1988) and Strong Motion (1992), which tackled St. Louis and Boston, respectively, this one skips from city to city (New York; St. Jude; Philadelphia; Vilnius, Lithuania) as it follows the delamination of the Lambert family Alfred, once a rigid disciplinarian, flounders against Parkinson's-induced dementia; Enid, his loyal and embittered wife, lusts for the perfect Midwestern Christmas; Denise, their daughter, launches the hippest restaurant in Philly; and Gary, their oldest son, grapples with depression, while Chip, his brother, attempts to shore his eroding self-confidence by joining forces with a self-mocking, Eastern-Bloc politician. As in his other novels, Franzen blends these personal dramas with expert technical cartwheels and savage commentary on larger social issues, such as the imbecility of laissez-faire parenting and the farcical nature of U.S.-Third World relations. The result is a book made of equal parts fury and humor, one that takes a dry-eyed look at our culture, at our pains and insecurities, while offering hope that, occasionally at least, we can reach some kind of understanding. This is, simply, a masterpiece. Agent, Susan Golomb. (Sept.) Forecast: Franzen has always been a writer's writer and his previous novels have earned critical admiration, but his sales haven't yet reached the level of, say, Don DeLillo at his hottest. Still, if the ancillary rights sales and the buzz at BEA are any indication, The Corrections should be his breakout book. Its varied subject matter will endear it to a genre-crossing section of fans (both David Foster Wallace and Michael Cunningham contributed rave blurbs) and FSG's publicity campaign will guarantee plenty of press. QPB main, BOMC alternate. Foreign rights sold in the U.K., Denmark, Holland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Spain. Nine-city author tour. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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2001
Cane River
Book Jacket   Lalita Tademy
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780446527323 Tademy halted a career as a high-powered technology executive to research her family's history. Her findings--four generations of strong-willed black women who survived slavery and racial injustices, maintained strong family ties, and left a legacy of faith and accomplishment--are transformed here into a powerful historical novel. The tale is told from the perspectives of Suzette, Philomene, and Emily, all born and raised in a small farming community in Louisiana. Suzette was raped by one of her master's relatives, and this set a pattern of race-mixing for her descendants. Philomene, Suzette's daughter, is desired by a powerful white man, Narcisse, and, after her slave husband is sold away and she loses her children, succumbs to his attentions. But she uses her sexual allure and a gift for premonition to secure protection and, after slavery ends, land and education for her family. Philomene's fierce determination reconstitutes the family on land she has secured from Narcisse. She is also determined that her daughter, Emily, will have every possible advantage, including, eventually, a wealthy white protector. Throughout three generations, however, none of the women escapes the social conventions forbidding interracial marriages; each is abandoned or driven away when her white protector wants to produce legal progeny. The incidental, progressive whitening of the family ends when Emily's son, T. O., marries a dark-skinned woman and reclaims his racial identity, inaugurating the line from which Tademy comes. Including old photographs and documents verifying the reality that underlies it, this fascinating account of American slavery and race-mixing should enthrall readers who love historical fiction. --Vanessa Bush
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780446527323 First novelist Tademy turns fact (the story of her antebellum Southern family) into fiction. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780446527323 Five generations and a hundred years in the life of a matriarchal black Louisiana family are encapsulated in this ambitious debut novel that is based in part upon the lives, as preserved in both historical record and oral tradition, of the author's ancestors. In 1834, nine-year-old Suzette, the "cocoa-colored" house servant of a Creole planter family, has aspirations to read, to live always in a "big house" and maybe even to marry into the relatively privileged world of the gens de couleur libre. Her plans are dashed, however, when at age 13 a French migr takes her as his mistress. Her "high yellow" daughter Philomene, in turn, is maneuvered into becoming the mother of Creole planter Narcisse Fredieu's "side family." After the Civil War, Philomene pins her hopes for a better future on her light-skinned daughter, Emily Fredieu, who is given a year of convent schooling in New Orleans. But Emily must struggle constantly to protect her children by her father's French cousin from terrorist "Night Riders" and racist laws. Tademy is candid about her ancestors' temptations to "pass," as their complexions lighten from the color of "coffee, to cocoa, to cream to milk, to lily." While she fully imagines their lives, she doesn't pander to the reader by introducing melodrama or sex. Her frank observations about black racism add depth to the tale, and she demonstrates that although the practice of slavery fell most harshly upon blacks, and especially women, it also constricted the lives and choices of white men. Photos of and documents relating to Tademy's ancestors add authenticity to a fascinating story. (Apr.) Forecasts: The success in recent years of similarly conceived nonfiction, like Edward Ball's Slaves in the Family, proves readers can't get enough of racially themed family history. Tademy, who left a high-level corporate job to research her family's story, should draw larger-than-average audiences for readings in 11 cities. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780446527323 First novelist Tademy turns fact (the story of her antebellum Southern family) into fiction. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2001
Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail
Book Jacket   Malika Oufkir
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780786867325 While accounts of the unjust arrest and torture of political prisoners are by now common, we expect such victims to come with a just cause. Here, Oufkir tells of the 20-year imprisonment of her upper-class Moroccan family following a 1972 coup attempt against King Hassan II by her father, a close military aide. After her father's execution, Oufkir, her mother and five siblings were carted off to a series of desert barracks, along with their books, toys and French designer clothes in the family's Vuitton luggage. At their first posting, they complained that they were short on butter and sweets. Over the years, subsequent placements brought isolation cells and inadequate, vermin-infested rations. Finally, starving and suicidal, the innocents realized they had been left to die. They dug a tunnel and escaped. Recapture led to another five years of various forms of imprisonment before the family was finally granted freedom. Oufkir's experience does not fit easily into current perceptions of political prisoners victimized for their beliefs or actions. In fact, she was the adopted daughter of King Muhammad V, Hassan II's father, sent by her parents at age five to be raised in the court with the king's daughter as her companion and equal. Beyond horrifying images such as mice nibbling at a rich girl's face, this erstwhile princess's memoir will fascinate readers with its singular tale of two kindly fathers, political struggles in a strict monarchy and a family's survival of cruel, prolonged deprivation. (Apr.) Forecast: A bestseller in France, where Morocco is always a hot issue, this oddly gripping book should also do well here thanks to Oufkir's appearance soon on 60 Minutes and a five-city tour. Film adaptation is a distinct possibility, especially given the book's publisher. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780786867325 Oufkir, the child of a general, was adopted at the age of five by King Mohammed and brought up as a companion to his daughter. Eleven years later, she returned home to a three-year adolescence of wealth and privilege, where she consorted with movie stars and royalty. In 1961, Hassin II succeeded his father as king, and Oufkir's father was executed after staging a coup against the new regime. For the next 15 years, Oufkir, her mother, and her five siblings were confined to a desert prison and subjected to inhuman conditions. Oufkir's description of their day-to-day survival during these years is the heart of the book. The family finally escaped by digging a tunnel, were recaptured, and today live in Paris, where Oufkir eventually found love and marriage with a French architect. A best seller in France, this riveting story will find an audience here, but just how much of an audience is yet to be determined. Recommended for all general collections. Frances Sandiford, Green Haven Correctional Facility Lib., Stormville, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780786867325 The ways that people hurt one another are always hard to fathom, and why they do so is another mystery. It is true that General Oufkir probably led the 1972 attempted coup and assassination of King Hassan of Morocco. However, Oufkir's wife and children, including Malika, found out about it only after his execution. Still, guilt by association condemned them, without a trial, to more than 20 years of imprisonment, including more than a decade of near starvation and torture. What makes all this harder to understand is that Malika had been adopted by then king Mohammed when she was five. As the primary playmate of the king's beloved daughter, she was surrounded by luxury and treated as royalty. After the coup attempt, Malika and other members of her family were exiled to an abandoned fort in the countryside. Within four years they were moved to the Bir-Jdid prison, where their worst torment began. They would not see one another or sunlight for more than a decade. The physical toll of years of this treatment was bad enough, but the emotional toll was far more devastating. By the time they dug their way to freedom in 1987, they were emaciated skeletons. However, even then it would be another nine years before they were totally free. The question of why it happened is never really answered, but this is an extremely effective and graphic picture of what evil is like from the vantage point of its most innocent victims. --Marlene Chamberlain
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2001
Icy Sparks
 Gwyn Hyman Rubio
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780670873111 The diagnosis of Tourette's Syndrome isn't mentioned until the last pages of Rubio's sensitive portrayal of a young girl with the disease. Instead, Rubio lets Icy Sparks tell her own story of growing up during the 1950s in a small Kentucky town where her uncontrollable outbursts make her an object of fright and scorn. "The Saturday after my [10th] birthday, the eye blinking and poppings began.... I could feel little invisible rubber bands fastened to my eyelids, pulled tight through my brain and attached to the back of my head," says Icy, who thinks of herself as the "frog child from Icy Creek." Orphaned and cared for by her loving grandparents, Icy weathers the taunts of a mean schoolteacher and, later, a crush on a boy that ends in disappointment. But she also finds real friendship with the enormously fat Miss Emily, who offers kindness and camaraderie. Rubio captures Icy's feelings of isolation and brings poignancy and drama to Icy's childhood experiences, to her temporary confinement in a mental institution and to her reluctant introduction?thanks to Miss Emily and Icy's grandmother?to the Pentecostal church through which she discovers her singing talent. If Rubio sometimes loses track of Icy's voice, indulges in unconvincing magical realism and takes unearned poetic license with the speech of her Appalachian grandparents ("`Your skin was as cold as fresh springwater, slippery and strangely soothing to touch'"), her first novel is remarkable for its often funny portrayal of a child's fears, loves and struggles with an affliction she doesn't know isn't her fault. Agent, Susan Golomb; editor, Jane von Mehren. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780670873111 Kentucky writer Rubio's big-hearted first novel features Icy Sparks, a brave and lovable child with Tourette Syndrome. Her involuntary twitches, eye poppings, and repetitions isolate her from the life of her Appalachian community. She is hospitalized for several months and finally receives the correct diagnosis, and under the care of a kindly doctor she learns techniques to reduce the severity of her symptoms. Her loving grandparents and the friendship of the hugely fat Miss Emily, also isolated by her difference, sustain her for five years. During those years Miss Emily teaches her what she will need to know for college. By the end of those years Icy has learned to manage her disability and has used her pain and loneliness to grow into a wonderful young woman. In refusing defeat, she wins the love and respect of the reader. For all collections where there are tender hearts.?Judith Kicinski, Sarah Lawrence Coll. Lib., Bronxville, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780670873111 Growing up in a small town in Kentucky, young Icy Sparks is set apart from her classmates by her weird mannerisms and strange noises. Not until she becomes an adult does Icy learn that her tics, croaks, and groans are all part of Tourette's syndrome, a neurological disease of which few people in the 1950s were aware. As a child, Icy suffers through taunts and mockery by her classmates. Even the adults closest to her--her loving grandparents who raise her, her school principal, and her despicable fourth-grade teacher--view her with alarm. Icy is sent to a children's asylum, where doctors try to discover the cause of her disease. While she is in the asylum, Icy begins to see beyond her own differences to the sufferings of others far worse off than she. Although many of the characters in this first novel are portrayed so simplisticly that they are either very good or unbelievably bad, this is a fast-moving and enjoyable narrative. A good choice for public libraries. --Nancy Pearl
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  Book Jacket
2001
We Were the Mulvaneys
 Joyce Carol Oates
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780525942238 Oates limns a dysfunctional family. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780525942238 Everyone knows the Mulvaneys: Dad the successful businessman, Mike the football star, Marianne the cheerleader, Patrick the brain, Judd the runt, and Mom dedicated to running the family. But after what sometime narrator Judd calls the events of Valentine's Day 1976, this ideal family falls apart and is not reunited until 1993. Oates's (Will You Always Love Me, LJ 2/1/96) 26th novel explores this disintegration with an eye to the nature of changing relationships and recovering from the fractures that occur. Through vivid imagery of a calm upstate New York landscape that any moment can be transformed by a blinding blizzard into a near-death experience, Oates demonstrates how faith and hope can help us endure. At another level, the process of becoming the Mulvaneys again investigates the philosophical and spiritual aspects of a family's survival and restoration. Highly recommended.?Joshua Cohen, Mid-Hudson Lib. System, Poughkeepsie, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780525942238 Elegiac and urgent in tone, Oates's wrenching 26th novel (after Zombie) is a profound and darkly realistic chronicle of one family's hubristic heyday and its fall from grace. The wealthy, socially elite Mulvaneys live on historic High Point Farm, near the small upstate town of Mt. Ephraim, N.Y. Before the act of violence that forever destroys it, an idyllic incandescence bathes life on the farm. Hard-working and proud, Michael Mulvaney owns a successful roofing company. His wife, Corinne, who makes a halfhearted attempt at running an antique business, adores her husband and four children, feeling "privileged by God." Narrator Judd looks up to his older brothers, athletic Mike Jr. ("Mule") and intellectual Patrick ("Pinch"), and his sister, radiant Marianne, a popular cheerleader who is 17 in 1976 when she is raped by a classmate after a prom. Though the incident is hushed up, everyone in the family becomes a casualty. Guilty and shamed by his reaction to his daughter's defilement, Mike Sr. can't bear to look at Marianne, and she is banished from her home, sent to live with a distant relative. The family begins to disintegrate. Mike loses his business and, later, the homestead. The boys and Corinne register their frustration and sadness in different, destructive ways. Valiant, tainted Marianne runs from love and commitment. More than a decade later, there is a surprising denouement, in which Oates accommodates a guardedly optimistic vision of the future. Each family member is complexly rendered and seen against the background of social and cultural conditioning. As with much of Oates's work, the prose is sometimes prolix, but the very rush of narrative, in which flashbacks capture the same urgency of tone as the present, gives this moving tale its emotional power. 75,000 first printing; author tour. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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2000
House of Sand and Fog
Book Jacket   Andre Dubus
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780393046977 Reeling from her husband's abrupt departure, Kathy is living alone in the modest California bungalow she inherited from her father and has few material or emotional resources upon which to draw when a pair of sheriff's deputies appear like creatures in a nightmare and evict her. It's all a mistake, but before Kathy, a personification of fog, can straighten things out, Colonel Behrani, an exiled Iranian air force officer forced to work menial jobs to support his family, snaps up her home at auction for a third of its value, moves in, and prepares to resell it at a profit. Obdurate and full of fury and pride, Behrani is sand, and Dubus has set up a microcosmic conflict of profound cultural implication and tremendous dramatic impact. Narrating from both points of view, he renders each character utterly compelling and sympathetic. All Kathy wants is her home; Behrani cannot give up his dream, and they are headed for a resolution of stunningly tragic dimensions. Like Craig Nova, Dubus writes gorgeous prose with a noirish edge, holding his readers spellbound as hope and love are lost in fog and buried in sand. --Donna Seaman
Library Journal Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. 9780393046977 In his second novel (after Bluesman, LJ 5/15/93), the son of noted writer Andre Dubus manages to get deep inside the heads of two very different characters who clash over a modest house in the San Francisco suburbs. Kathy is a recovering alcoholic and cokehead who loses her inherited bungalow for alleged nonpayment of taxes. Behmini, an Iranian who was an officer in the Shah's air force before fleeing the revolution, is now struggling to succeed in the United States. He buys the house at auction, planning to make a profit on the resale. Kathy skulks around the neighborhood and eventually confronts the family. When she becomes sexually involved with the policeman she met at her eviction, a married man with bad judgment and a drinking problem of his own, he takes up her cause with explosive results. Dubus's attention to detail and realistic prose style give the narrative a hard-edged, cinematic quality, but unlike many movies, its outcome is unexpected. Recommended for all fiction collections.Ã?Reba Leiding, James Madison Univ., Harrisonburg, VA
Publishers Weekly Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. 9780393046977 This powerfully written but bleak narrative is a mesmerizing tale of the American Dream gone terribly awry. Massoud Amir Behrani, a former colonel in the Iranian Air Force under the Shah, now lives in exile with his wife and teenage son near San Francisco. Working on a road crew as a "garbage soldier" by day and as a deli clerk by night, Behrani is obsessed with restoring his family to the position of glittering wealth and prestige it once enjoyed. At a county auction, he sinks his savings into a bungalow seized for non-payment of taxes, and quickly moves his family into it, planning to resell the house at a sizable profit. But when the house's previous occupant, recovering coke addict Kathy Lazaro, resurfaces with valid claims for repossession, Behrani's plan begins to unravel, and with it his tightly controlled facade of composure. Tensions between Lazaro and Behrani quickly escalate into violence, as Lazaro's lover, a married police officer with a weak spot for lost causes, decides to take matters into his own hands. The book's horrifying denouement offers readers a searing study in the wages of pride. Dubus (Bluesman) writes with an authority regarding the American lower middle class that is reminiscent of Russell Banks and Richard Ford, and his limber imagination is capable of drawing the inner lives of three very different main characters with such compassion that readers will find their sympathies hopelessly divided. If the tragedy that he so skillfully orchestrates cries out to be leavened with a little less desperation and some quiet glimpse of hope, the keenly perceptive and moving narrative is proof that the son and namesake of one of our most talented writers has embarked on a dazzling career in his own right. (Feb.)
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780393046977 Reeling from her husband's abrupt departure, Kathy is living alone in the modest California bungalow she inherited from her father and has few material or emotional resources upon which to draw when a pair of sheriff's deputies appear like creatures in a nightmare and evict her. It's all a mistake, but before Kathy, a personification of fog, can straighten things out, Colonel Behrani, an exiled Iranian air force officer forced to work menial jobs to support his family, snaps up her home at auction for a third of its value, moves in, and prepares to resell it at a profit. Obdurate and full of fury and pride, Behrani is sand, and Dubus has set up a microcosmic conflict of profound cultural implication and tremendous dramatic impact. Narrating from both points of view, he renders each character utterly compelling and sympathetic. All Kathy wants is her home; Behrani cannot give up his dream, and they are headed for a resolution of stunningly tragic dimensions. Like Craig Nova, Dubus writes gorgeous prose with a noirish edge, holding his readers spellbound as hope and love are lost in fog and buried in sand. --Donna Seaman
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780393046977 In his second novel (after Bluesman, LJ 5/15/93), the son of noted writer Andre Dubus manages to get deep inside the heads of two very different characters who clash over a modest house in the San Francisco suburbs. Kathy is a recovering alcoholic and cokehead who loses her inherited bungalow for alleged nonpayment of taxes. Behmini, an Iranian who was an officer in the Shah's air force before fleeing the revolution, is now struggling to succeed in the United States. He buys the house at auction, planning to make a profit on the resale. Kathy skulks around the neighborhood and eventually confronts the family. When she becomes sexually involved with the policeman she met at her eviction, a married man with bad judgment and a drinking problem of his own, he takes up her cause with explosive results. Dubus's attention to detail and realistic prose style give the narrative a hard-edged, cinematic quality, but unlike many movies, its outcome is unexpected. Recommended for all fiction collections.ÄReba Leiding, James Madison Univ., Harrisonburg, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780393046977 This powerfully written but bleak narrative is a mesmerizing tale of the American Dream gone terribly awry. Massoud Amir Behrani, a former colonel in the Iranian Air Force under the Shah, now lives in exile with his wife and teenage son near San Francisco. Working on a road crew as a "garbage soldier" by day and as a deli clerk by night, Behrani is obsessed with restoring his family to the position of glittering wealth and prestige it once enjoyed. At a county auction, he sinks his savings into a bungalow seized for non-payment of taxes, and quickly moves his family into it, planning to resell the house at a sizable profit. But when the house's previous occupant, recovering coke addict Kathy Lazaro, resurfaces with valid claims for repossession, Behrani's plan begins to unravel, and with it his tightly controlled facade of composure. Tensions between Lazaro and Behrani quickly escalate into violence, as Lazaro's lover, a married police officer with a weak spot for lost causes, decides to take matters into his own hands. The book's horrifying denouement offers readers a searing study in the wages of pride. Dubus (Bluesman) writes with an authority regarding the American lower middle class that is reminiscent of Russell Banks and Richard Ford, and his limber imagination is capable of drawing the inner lives of three very different main characters with such compassion that readers will find their sympathies hopelessly divided. If the tragedy that he so skillfully orchestrates cries out to be leavened with a little less desperation and some quiet glimpse of hope, the keenly perceptive and moving narrative is proof that the son and namesake of one of our most talented writers has embarked on a dazzling career in his own right. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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2000
Drowning Ruth
Book Jacket   Christina Schwarz
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780385499712 Why did Ruth's mother, Mathilda, drown on that fateful night in 1919 and Ruth survive? That is the central question that this novel sets out to answer. Mathilda's sister, Amanda, who has been nursing soldiers in Milwaukee (it is right after World War I), has returned to the family farm in rural Wisconsin. Mathilda and Ruth are there to help her return to a normal life. Yet a year later, Mathilda's husband returns from the war to find his wife drowned and his sister-in-law raising his daughter. So continues the tale through 1941, as we watch Ruth grow up and try to remember what happened that winter night. Along the way, Ruth befriends Imogene, who has a closer connection to the family than Ruth can imagine. The story is recounted partly through flashback and moves from first-person to third-person narrative. What results is a gripping tale of sisterly rivalry, family loyalty, and secret histories. Already optioned for a film by Miramax, to be directed by Wes Craven, this first novel is an engrossing read. Recommended for all public libraries.DRobin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780385499712 With all the realism of a Victorian morality play, this much-hyped first novel plays the tropes of dark family ties and darker family secrets, tied to a particular place. In Milwaukee, Amanda has been nursing soldiers home from World War I, but she returns, neurasthenic and tight-lipped, to the family farm on a lake. Her sister Matilda's husband, Carl, is off at war, and Mandy fits into Mattie's life with a fierce attachment to her and to her baby daughter, Ruth. But as the story moves back and forth in time, we learn that Mattie drowned in the lake one icy night; that Ruth remembers but Mandy denies her memories; and that Mandy has been mother to Ruth, filling her longing to have someone of her own. Carl's memories of his wife grow weak and suspicious; as Ruth gets older, other secrets Mandy holds grow in sinister importance. The tale is narrated in many voices and from multiple points of view, with every plotline and small detail coming round again. Unfortunately, the writing is stiff, and the armature of the plot is all too visible. Wes Craven may have a fierce old time turning this into a movie--rights have been optioned--but it isn't nearly of the intensity of, for example, Beth Gutcheon's More Than You Know [BKL F 15 00]. Buy as demand requires. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780385499712 "Ruth remembered drowning." The first sentence of this brilliantly understated psychological thriller leaps off the page and captures the reader's imagination. In Schwarz's debut novel, brutal Wisconsin weather and WWI drama color a tale of family rivalry, madness, secrets and obsessive love. By March 1919, Nurse Amanda Starkey has come undone. She convinces herself that her daily exposure to the wounded soldiers in the Milwaukee hospital where she works is the cause of her hallucinations, fainting spells and accidents. Amanda journeys home to the family farm in Nagawaukee, where her sister, Mathilda (Mattie), lives with her three-year-old daughter Ruth, awaiting the return of her war-injured husband, Carl Neumann. Mattie's ebullient welcome convinces Amanda she can mend there. But then Mattie drowns in the lake that surrounds the sisters' island house and, in a rush of confusion and anguish, Amanda assumes care of Ruth. After Carl comes home, Amanda and he manage to work together on the farm and parent Ruth, but their arrangement is strained: Amanda has a breakdown and recuperates at a sanatorium. As time passes, Ruth grows into an odd, guarded child who clings to perplexing memories of the night her mother drowned. Why does Amanda have that little circle of scars on her hand? What is Amanda's connection to Ruth's friend Imogene and why does she fear Imogene's marriage to Clement Owen's son? Schwarz deftly uses first-person narration to heighten the drama. Her prose is spare but bewitching, and she juggles the speakers and time periods with the surety of a seasoned novelist. Rather than attempting a trumped-up suspenseful finale, Schwarz ends her novel gently, underscoring the delicate power of her tale. Agent, Jennifer R. Walsh at the Writers Shop. Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, Teen People and Mango Book Club main selections; film rights optioned by Miramax, Wes Craven to direct; foreign rights sold in Germany, France, the U.K., Japan, Italy, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden and Denmark. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780385499712 YA-A wonderfully constructed gothic suspense novel set on a stark Wisconsin farm in 1919. The story goes backward and forward in time and is told by Amanda, her niece Ruth, and an omniscient narrator. The ties that bind the two women are as fragile as they are fierce and have their origin in the relationship of two sisters, Amanda and her sister Mattie, Ruth's mother. The narrative begins with Amanda as she recounts her childhood and the responsibility she came to feel for her younger sister and the parents who favored her younger sibling. Amanda finally wrests herself away from home to become a nurse, but her independence is short-lived. Overwhelmed and sickened by the care of the wounded, and heartsick over the love of a married man, she suffers a nervous breakdown and seeks solace by returning to the farm to help Mattie care for her tiny daughter as they await the return of Mattie's husband from World War I. But tragedy follows with Mattie's mysterious drowning during a winter blizzard and guilty lies soon engulf Amanda and threaten to change the lives of several others in the small rural community. A compelling complex tale of psychological mystery and maddeningly destructive provincial attitudes.-Jackie Gropman, Kings Park Library, Fairfax, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2000
Open House
 Elizabeth Berg
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780375501005 Two new novels, one from a seasoned veteran, one from a newcomer, take on the subject of a woman finding herself. At the center of Berg's eighth novel is Samantha Morrow, a woman who knows her marriage is far from perfect and feels helpless as she watches it fall apart in front of her. When her husband, David, walks out on her, it seems as though the rest of her world is falling apart as well. Her eleven-year-old son, Travis, is sullen and withdrawn; her mother keeps trying to set her up on dates; and she has to find a way to keep her house. Soon she is advertising for roommates and, at the advice of a new friend, King, taking on temporary jobs. As Sam begins to take charge of her own life, she gains a new confidence in herself. There's love in Sam's future but not until she finds out who she is on her own. Sam is an engaging character, and so are the rest of the supporting cast, making this an enjoyable, uplifting read. Brown's first novel revolves around Mandy Boyle, a girl who is finally about to escape the small town she's lived in all her life. She's headed for a new, exciting world of possibilities: college. At first, it's everything Mandy imagined it would be: new friends, stimulating classes, and a chance to reinvent herself. But when her father dies suddenly, her new happiness begins to fall apart. Her sickly, clingy mother wants her to come home, but Mandy resists, instead returning to college only to find herself spiraling downward into depression, missing classes, and alienating her friends. When she goes to spend the weekend with her older boyfriend, Booner, she simply doesn't go back to school. She falls into a routine and is able to hide away for a while, until events call for her to make the decisions about her future that she's been avoiding. Mandy's coming of age, or "quickening," comes slowly, but surely. --Kristine Huntley
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  Book Jacket
2000
The Poisonwood Bible
 Barbara Kingsolver
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780060175405 It's been five years since Kingsolver's last novel (Pigs in Heaven, LJ 6/15/93), and she has used her time well. This intense family drama is set in an Africa on the verge of independence and upheaval. In 1959, evangelical preacher Nathan Price moves his wife and four daughters from Georgia to a village in the Belgian Congo, later Zaire. Their dysfunction and cultural arrogance proves disastrous as the family is nearly destroyed by war, Nathan's tyranny, and Africa itself. Told in the voices of the mother and daughters, the novel spans 30 years as the women seek to understand each other and the continent that tore them apart. Kingsolver has a keen understanding of the inevitable, often violent clashes between white and indigenous cultures, yet she lets the women tell their own stories without being judgmental. An excellent novel that was worth the wait and will win the author new fans. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/98.]?Ellen Flexman, Indianapolis-Marion Cty. P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780060175405 Fiery evangelist Nathan Price takes his wife and four daughters to the Belgian Congo in 1959, where they find that they are more transformed than transforming. Kingsolver's first since Pigs in Heaven. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780060175405 In this risky but resoundingly successful novel, Kingsolver leaves the Southwest, the setting of most of her work (The Bean Trees; Animal Dreams) and follows an evangelical Baptist minister's family to the Congo in the late 1950s, entwining their fate with that of the country during three turbulent decades. Nathan Price's determination to convert the natives of the Congo to Christianity is, we gradually discover, both foolhardy and dangerous, unsanctioned by the church administration and doomed from the start by Nathan's self-righteousness. Fanatic and sanctimonious, Nathan is a domestic monster, too, a physically and emotionally abusive, misogynistic husband and father. He refuses to understand how his obsession with river baptism affronts the traditions of the villagers of Kalinga, and his stubborn concept of religious rectitude brings misery and destruction to all. Cleverly, Kingsolver never brings us inside Nathan's head but instead unfolds the tragic story of the Price family through the alternating points of view of Orleanna Price and her four daughters. Cast with her young children into primitive conditions but trained to be obedient to her husband, Orleanna is powerless to mitigate their situation. Meanwhile, each of the four Price daughters reveals herself through first-person narration, and their rich and clearly differentiated self-portraits are small triumphs. Rachel, the eldest, is a self-absorbed teenager who will never outgrow her selfish view of the world or her tendency to commit hilarious malapropisms. Twins Leah and Adah are gifted intellectually but are physically and emotionally separated by Adah's birth injury, which has rendered her hemiplagic. Leah adores her father; Adah, who does not speak, is a shrewd observer of his monumental ego. The musings of five- year-old Ruth May reflect a child's humorous misunderstanding of the exotic world to which she has been transported. By revealing the story through the female victims of Reverend Price's hubris, Kingsolver also charts their maturation as they confront or evade moral and existential issues and, at great cost, accrue wisdom in the crucible of an alien land. It is through their eyes that we come to experience the life of the villagers in an isolated community and the particular ways in which American and African cultures collide. As the girls become acquainted with the villagers, especially the young teacher Anatole, they begin to understand the political situation in the Congo: the brutality of Belgian rule, the nascent nationalism briefly fulfilled in the election of the short-lived Patrice Lumumba government, and the secret involvement of the Eisenhower administration in Lumumba's assassination and the installation of the villainous dictator Mobutu. In the end, Kingsolver delivers a compelling family saga, a sobering picture of the horrors of fanatic fundamentalism and an insightful view of an exploited country crushed by the heel of colonialism and then ruthlessly manipulated by a bastion of democracy. The book is also a marvelous mix of trenchant character portrayal, unflagging narrative thrust and authoritative background detail. The disastrous outcome of the forceful imposition of Christian theology on indigenous natural faith gives the novel its pervasive irony; but humor is pervasive, too, artfully integrated into the children's misapprehensions of their world; and suspense rises inexorably as the Price family's peril and that of the newly independent country of Zaire intersect. Kingsolver moves into new moral terrain in this powerful, convincing and emotionally resonant novel. Agent, Frances Goldin; BOMC selection; major ad/promo; author tour. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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  Book Jacket
 
2000
While I Was Gone
Book Jacket   Sue Miller
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780375401121 Thirty years ago, Joey Becker's carefree bohemian life was shattered by the brutal, unsolved murder of her best friend, Dana. Joey coped with her loss while building a career, marrying, and raising a family. She thinks she is happy, but ever since her children have left home Joey has felt a vague sense of disappointment. She cannot share the depth of her feelings for Dana with anyone, even her husband. Then Eli, Joey and Dana's former housemate, arrives in town. Joey and Eli are first drawn to each other because they both loved Dana and still mourn her, but their mutual attraction grows until it threatens Joey's marriage and her relationship with her daughter. Miller (The Good Mother, LJ 5/15/86) presents a suspenseful, penetrating look at the tenuous bonds of love, the ease with which even a good marriage can be destroyed, and the need to forgive ourselves for the mistakes of the past. Highly recommended for all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/98.]?Karen Anderson, Superior Court Law Lib., Phoenix (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780375401121 The domestic scene is Miller's terrain, a place where steadiness is hoped for by all parties involved but where earthquakes are bound to come along and disassemble the landscape. So it was in perhaps her most famous novel, The Good Mother (1986), about a child-custody battle, and so it is in her latest effort, about the incredibly unexpected results of a close encounter with marital infidelity. Joey Becker is 52, a successful veterinarian and married to a man she deeply loves. She has three children who present her with motherly concerns, but, overall, they are an asset to her life. Then one day a man she had lived with in a community of other young people, at a time when she had fled from her first husband, reappears. But something had happened to one of their housemates back then: she was brutally murdered. When this man from Joey's past reappears, Joey is attracted to him like a moth to a flame. But her attraction leads to his confession of the killing so many years ago. The horror of this knowledge traumatizes her, and the fact that she instigated a rendezvous with the man in the first place threatens to ruin her happy marriage. In her signature straightforward prose, Miller captures the thrill of the unknown and the draw of the known. --Brad Hooper
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780375401121 Thirty years after she discovers her best friend murdered, Jo Becker finds her now-happy life unraveling. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780375401121 The shadowy and inexorable nemesis of past secrets to a reclaimed life, and the inability even of those who are intimates to really know one another, are poignant themes in Miller's resonant fifth novel. Narrator Jo Becker, now a veterinarian married to a minister in a small Massachusetts town, was once a runaway bride who assumed a false name and lived with other dissaffected '60s bohemians in a group house in Cambridge. Her special friend in the house was sweet-spirited and generous Dana Jablonski, whose shocking?and unsolved?murder broke up the group and left Jo with unresolved questions about her own identity. She manages to ignore the memories of that time until, almost three decades later, one of the former housemates, Eli Mayhew, moves to her town. Eli, now a distinguished research scientist, provides a revelation that acts as the catalyst provoking Jo to face her guilt about her past behavior?and to act impulsively once again. Her moral conundrum occasions a heartrending change in her heretofore strong marriage and undermines her relationship with her three grown daughters. As usual, Miller (The Good Mother; Family Pictures) renders the details of quotidian domesticity with bedrock veracity and a sensitivity to minute calibrations of family dynamics, especially the nuances of sibling rivalry. But while the pacing, tone and measured exposition are handled with masterly skill, the way in which Jo's decision to make amends for her past rebounds on her present life seems staged and convoluted, since her husband and children seem to think that retribution for a murder should take second place to their own emotional needs. That cavil aside, Miller's narrative is a beautifully textured picture of the psychological tug of war between finding integrity as an individual and satisfying the demands of spouse, children and community. 150,000 first printing; Random House audio; BOMC selection; author tour. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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2000
The Bluest Eye
Book Jacket   Toni Morrison
 
2000
Back Roads
 Tawni O'Dell
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780670887606 Harley Altmyer, a 19-year-old living in the Pennsylvania backwoods, works two jobs to support himself and three younger sisters, all orphaned when their mother is imprisoned for killing their abusive father. Harley is frustrated by his dreary, duty-filled life, resentful that his best friend is away at college and has escaped the dead-end existence of the small town. He resents his mother, who, albeit in prison, has escaped the relentless demands of a seriously dysfunctional family: oversexed Amber searches for love in every boy she meets; Misty wears as a bracelet the collar of her pet cat who died in mysterious circumstances; and Jody, only recently recovered from total withdrawal, compulsively makes to-do lists. Harley's affair with Callie Mercer, the mother of Jody's friend, marks his sexual and emotional awakening, but it won't permit an escape from family secrets. He regularly visits a state-funded psychologist but responds with sarcasm, indifference, and denial until a family crisis rewakens memories that lead him to a truth more awful than the apparent reality of his miserable life. Harley's first-person account of the deterioration of his family and his own slow-motion meltdown is harrowing. O'Dell, a native of western Pennsylvania, renders finely detailed characters and settings in a desperate and failed mining town. This is a riveting first novel of violence, incest, murder, and madness. --Vanessa Bush
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780670887606 Nineteen-year-old Harley is left to rear his three younger sisters after their mother is imprisoned for murdering their abusive father in this searing, hardscrabble Party of Five set in Pennsylvania mining country. Doubly resentful because his best friend is off at college, Harley spends his days slogging as a Shop Rite bagger and appliance-shop delivery person, coming home to cold cereal dinners prepared by six-year-old Jody. Harley is bitter about having to take over for his motherÄ"she still had us kids but we didn't have her"Äand he can't shake the feeling that she prefers prison to their home life; a mystery lingers around his father's death. Meanwhile, 16-year-old Amber is sleeping her way through the town's teenage boys and flaunting her body in front of Harley; middle sister Misty, once her father's favorite and his hunting companion, practices shooting. Desperate for relief, Harley finds solace in rough but exhilarating encounters with married Callie Mercer, little Jody's best friend's mother, losing his virginity to her on a muddy creek bank and reveling in her sophisticated, sensitive words. But memories are stirring in his subconscious, and erotic dreams of the Virgin Mary metamorphose into nightmarish sexual visions. In his sessions with a court-appointed therapist, Harley edges closer to understanding his family's twisted dynamic, but it is only when the horrors of the present begin to catch up with those of the past that a series of shattering truths are revealed. By then it is too late for Harley to save everyone he loves, but in sacrificing himself, however hopelessly, he introduces a note of grace. O'Dell's scorching tale touches on all the tropes of dysfunctional families, but her characters fight free of stereotypes, taking on an angry, authentic glow. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780670887606 Harley Altmyer might be the only 20-year-old virgin in the small Pennsylvania coal town where he lives, but for sure he is the only one with custody of three younger siblingsÄa responsibility inherited when his mother killed his abusive father and went to prison for life. While he works two dead-end jobs to support his sisters, Harley lusts after a married neighbor, Callie Mercer. When Callie indicates that she's attracted to him, too, the resulting sexual fireworks set off a series of events with tragic consequences. First novelist O'Dell, a trained journalist and a former exotic dancer, knows a lot about raging hormones, and she clearly has a good deal of affection for Harley (which the reader will share). She is less comfortable, however, with the demands of plot and character development. The last third of the novel is unnecessarily convoluted and rests uneasily on characters who are too sketchy to support the pieces of plot that they're carrying. Once O'Dell learns how to harness the runaway energy she brings to fiction, she'll be a writer to read; until then, only large public libraries should consider this for purchase.ÄNancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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  Book Jacket
2000
Daughter of Fortune
 Isabel Allende
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780060194918 The latest novel by one of the most internationally appreciated writers draws on two of the environments about which Allende knows much: Chile, her native land, and California, where she currently resides. Allende proves she has learned history well and that she knows characters instinctively as she reaches back into both Chile's and California's past to construct a story of family conflict, romantic love, and true adventure, all these threads spun into a fine, even beautiful, narrative of admirable force. Her tale begins in an intriguing milieu: that of the British colony in the Chilean city of Valparaiso (for which, of course, Allende has a wonderful feel) at the middle of the nineteenth century. A year and a half after Rose and Jeremy Sommers, sister and brother (the latter in the import-export business), arrived at the Chilean port city, they took in an orphan left at their doorstep; and little Eliza is raised with privilege, with the hopes of her making a smart marriage. But, as one might have predicted, Eliza falls for a young man much lower on the social scale than she; and when he goes popping off to California to partake of the gold rush there, Eliza, left pregnant, decides to steal away to follow him. En route she meets her soulmate, a Chinese herbalist called Tao Chi'en; and learning from both his and her own experiences in the California goldfields, Eliza grows up quickly, gaining an incredible reserve of strength and character. --Brad Hooper
Publishers Weekly Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. 9780060194918 Allende expands her geographical boundaries in this sprawling, engrossing historical novel flavored by four culturesÄEnglish, Chilean, Chinese and AmericanÄand set during the 1849 California Gold Rush. The alluring tale begins in Valpara¡so, Chile, with young Eliza Sommers, who was left as a baby on the doorstep of wealthy British importers Miss Rose Sommers and her prim brother, Jeremy. Now a 16-year-old, and newly pregnant, Eliza decides to follow her lover, fiery clerk Joaqu¡n Andieta, when he leaves for California to make his fortune in the gold rush. Enlisting the unlikely aid of Tao Chi'en, a Chinese shipboard cook, she stows away on a ship bound for San Francisco. Tao Chi'en's own storyÄrichly textured and expansively toldÄbegins when he is born into a peasant family and sold into slavery, where it is his good fortune to be trained as a master of acupuncture. Years later, while tending to a sailor in colonial Hong Kong, he is shanghaied and forced into service at sea. During the voyage with Eliza, Tao nurses her through a miscarriage. When they disembark, Eliza is disguised as a boy, and she spends the next four years in male attire so she may travel freely and safely. Eliza's search for Joaqu¡n (rumored to have become an outlaw) is disappointing, but through an eye-opening stint as a pianist in a traveling brothel and through her charged friendship with Tao, now a sought-after healer and champion of enslaved Chinese prostitutes, Eliza finds freedom, fulfillment and maturity. Effortlessly weaving in historical background, Allende (House of the Spirits; Paula) evokes in pungent prose the great melting pot of early California and the colorful societies of Valpara¡so and Canton. A gallery of secondary characters, developed early on, prove pivotal to the plot. In a book of this scope, the narrative is inevitably top-heavy in spots, and the plot wears thin toward the end, but this is storytelling at its most seductive, a brash historical adventure. Major ad/promo; BOMC dual main selection; 11-city author tour. (Oct.) FYI: This book will also be released in a HarperLibros Spanish edition, Hija del la Fortuna (ISBN 0-06-019492-8). Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780060194918 Allende expands her geographical boundaries in this sprawling, engrossing historical novel flavored by four culturesÄEnglish, Chilean, Chinese and AmericanÄand set during the 1849 California Gold Rush. The alluring tale begins in Valpara¡so, Chile, with young Eliza Sommers, who was left as a baby on the doorstep of wealthy British importers Miss Rose Sommers and her prim brother, Jeremy. Now a 16-year-old, and newly pregnant, Eliza decides to follow her lover, fiery clerk Joaqu¡n Andieta, when he leaves for California to make his fortune in the gold rush. Enlisting the unlikely aid of Tao Chi'en, a Chinese shipboard cook, she stows away on a ship bound for San Francisco. Tao Chi'en's own storyÄrichly textured and expansively toldÄbegins when he is born into a peasant family and sold into slavery, where it is his good fortune to be trained as a master of acupuncture. Years later, while tending to a sailor in colonial Hong Kong, he is shanghaied and forced into service at sea. During the voyage with Eliza, Tao nurses her through a miscarriage. When they disembark, Eliza is disguised as a boy, and she spends the next four years in male attire so she may travel freely and safely. Eliza's search for Joaqu¡n (rumored to have become an outlaw) is disappointing, but through an eye-opening stint as a pianist in a traveling brothel and through her charged friendship with Tao, now a sought-after healer and champion of enslaved Chinese prostitutes, Eliza finds freedom, fulfillment and maturity. Effortlessly weaving in historical background, Allende (House of the Spirits; Paula) evokes in pungent prose the great melting pot of early California and the colorful societies of Valpara¡so and Canton. A gallery of secondary characters, developed early on, prove pivotal to the plot. In a book of this scope, the narrative is inevitably top-heavy in spots, and the plot wears thin toward the end, but this is storytelling at its most seductive, a brash historical adventure. Major ad/promo; BOMC dual main selection; 11-city author tour. (Oct.) FYI: This book will also be released in a HarperLibros Spanish edition, Hija del la Fortuna (ISBN 0-06-019492-8). (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780060194918 The latest novel by one of the most internationally appreciated writers draws on two of the environments about which Allende knows much: Chile, her native land, and California, where she currently resides. Allende proves she has learned history well and that she knows characters instinctively as she reaches back into both Chile's and California's past to construct a story of family conflict, romantic love, and true adventure, all these threads spun into a fine, even beautiful, narrative of admirable force. Her tale begins in an intriguing milieu: that of the British colony in the Chilean city of Valparaiso (for which, of course, Allende has a wonderful feel) at the middle of the nineteenth century. A year and a half after Rose and Jeremy Sommers, sister and brother (the latter in the import-export business), arrived at the Chilean port city, they took in an orphan left at their doorstep; and little Eliza is raised with privilege, with the hopes of her making a smart marriage. But, as one might have predicted, Eliza falls for a young man much lower on the social scale than she; and when he goes popping off to California to partake of the gold rush there, Eliza, left pregnant, decides to steal away to follow him. En route she meets her soulmate, a Chinese herbalist called Tao Chi'en; and learning from both his and her own experiences in the California goldfields, Eliza grows up quickly, gaining an incredible reserve of strength and character. --Brad Hooper
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780060194918 Allende expands her geographical boundaries in this sprawling, engrossing historical novel flavored by four culturesÄEnglish, Chilean, Chinese and AmericanÄand set during the 1849 California Gold Rush. The alluring tale begins in Valpara¡so, Chile, with young Eliza Sommers, who was left as a baby on the doorstep of wealthy British importers Miss Rose Sommers and her prim brother, Jeremy. Now a 16-year-old, and newly pregnant, Eliza decides to follow her lover, fiery clerk Joaqu¡n Andieta, when he leaves for California to make his fortune in the gold rush. Enlisting the unlikely aid of Tao Chi'en, a Chinese shipboard cook, she stows away on a ship bound for San Francisco. Tao Chi'en's own storyÄrichly textured and expansively toldÄbegins when he is born into a peasant family and sold into slavery, where it is his good fortune to be trained as a master of acupuncture. Years later, while tending to a sailor in colonial Hong Kong, he is shanghaied and forced into service at sea. During the voyage with Eliza, Tao nurses her through a miscarriage. When they disembark, Eliza is disguised as a boy, and she spends the next four years in male attire so she may travel freely and safely. Eliza's search for Joaqu¡n (rumored to have become an outlaw) is disappointing, but through an eye-opening stint as a pianist in a traveling brothel and through her charged friendship with Tao, now a sought-after healer and champion of enslaved Chinese prostitutes, Eliza finds freedom, fulfillment and maturity. Effortlessly weaving in historical background, Allende (House of the Spirits; Paula) evokes in pungent prose the great melting pot of early California and the colorful societies of Valpara¡so and Canton. A gallery of secondary characters, developed early on, prove pivotal to the plot. In a book of this scope, the narrative is inevitably top-heavy in spots, and the plot wears thin toward the end, but this is storytelling at its most seductive, a brash historical adventure. Major ad/promo; BOMC dual main selection; 11-city author tour. (Oct.) FYI: This book will also be released in a HarperLibros Spanish edition, Hija del la Fortuna (ISBN 0-06-019492-8). (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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  Book Jacket
 
1999
Gap Creek
Book Jacket   Robert Morgan
1999
A Map of the World
Book Jacket   Jane Hamilton
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780385473101 This second novel by Hamilton (The Book of Ruth, LJ 11/1/88) is a stunning exploration of how one careless moment can cause irrevocable and devastating change. Alice Goodwin is caring for her best friend's children when two-year-old Lizzy Collins wanders to the pond on the Goodwin farm and drowns. The consequences of this tragedy reverberate through a small Wisconsin community, which never accepted Howard and Alice Goodwin. Theresa Collins, bereft at losing a child and a dear friend, draws on her Catholic religion and finds forgiveness. Alice, immobilized by guilt and grief and unable to function as a wife or mother to her own two daughters, is charged with abusing children in her part-time job as a school nurse. Lizzy's death is ever present-especially in the bond growing between Theresa and Howard while Alice is in jail-and the pain of it is echoed in Alice's primary young accuser and in Alice as a child, drawing her own map of the world after her mother died. Reminiscent of Rosellen Brown's Tender Mercies (1978), this compelling, multilayered fiction belongs in all collections.-Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., Va. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780385473101 Booksellers should send up three cheers of greeting for this haunting second novel by the author of The Book of Ruth , a beautifully developed and written story reminiscent of the work of Sue Miller and Jane Smiley. A piercing picture of domestic relationships under the pressure of calamitous circumstances, it poignantly addresses the capricious turns of fate and the unyielding grip of regret. Alice and Howard Goodwin and their two young daughters live on the last remaining dairy farm on the outskirts of Racine, Wisc. The farm is Howard's dream, realized with infusions of money from his disapproving mother; but Alice, who is disorganized, skittery and emotionally volatile, is constitutionally unsuited to be a farmer's wife. Her solace is her best friend Theresa, who also has two little girls for whom they alternate days of babysitting. One hot, dry June morning, in the middle of a soul-parching drought, Alice daydreams for a few, crucial minutes while the four girls play. She has rediscovered the map of the world that she made after her own mother died when she was eight; it was an attempt to imagine a place where she would always feel safe and secure. In that short time, one of Theresa's daughters drowns in the Goodwins' pond. As outsiders from the city, the Goodwins have never been accepted in their small community, which now closes forces against them. Still grieving and filled with remorse, Alice, a school nurse, is accused by an opportunistic mother of sexually molesting her son. She is arrested, and since Howard cannot raise bail, she remains in jail, where she suffers but also learns a great deal about human frailty and solidarity. Meanwhile, Howard and the girls undergo their own crucible of fire. Among Hamilton's gifts is a perfect ear for the interchanges of domestic life. The voices of Alice and Howard, who narrate the tale, have an elegiac, yet compelling tone as they look back on the events that swept them into a horrifying nightmare. In counterpoint to the shocks that transform their existence, the drudgery of the daily routine of farm life has rarely been conveyed with such fidelity. Fittingly, however, the death of their hopes as a family coincides with Howard's realization that the farmer's way of life is disappearing as well. The last third of the book, detailing Alice's incarceration among mainly black inmates, is astonishingly perceptive and credible, opening new dimensions in the narrative. One wants to read this powerful novel at one sitting, mesmerized by a story that has universal implications. BOMC and QPB selection. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780385473101 Hamilton's first novel, The Book of Ruth, was widely praised and won the 1989 PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award for best first novel. Her second centers on a few months in the lives of Alice and Howard Goodwin and their little girls, Emma and Claire. The Goodwins live on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, a few hundred acres surrounded by housing tracts. Because they are the only farm family left, and because they are somewhat eccentric and proud of their self-sufficiency, they are isolated from most of their neighbors. Their only friends are the Collins family. One day, Theresa Collins brings her daughters to stay at the farm while she goes to work. In the few minutes that Alice spends looking for a bathing suit, two-year-old Lizzie Collins runs to the pond and drowns. Alice blames herself for Lizzie's death, but that's not all. The mother of Robbie Mackessy, a little boy who is one of Alice's most frequent patients in her job as a part-time school nurse, accuses her of sexual child abuse, and Alice is arrested. The rest of the book traces Alice's time in jail, her family's efforts to cope while she is gone, and her trial. Hamilton has a great gift for characterization, and she can express the smallest nuances of behavior, from those of adults under extreme stress to those of very small children. Heartbreaking, harrowing, extremely well done. ~--Mary Ellen Quinn
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780385473101 The accidental drowning of a child in her care completely reroutes Emma Goodwin's placid existence. Hamilton is adept at showing how easily life can be tipped from the ordinary into the nightmarish and how decent people cope under extreme stress.
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1999
Vinegar Hill
 A. Manette Ansay
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780380730131 Ellen must go with her unemployed husband to live with her in-laws. Their home in Hollysfield, WI, is a place of unrelenting negativity and rigidity. In the early 1970s, when women are just begnning to recognize their choices, Ellen must decide whether she will stick with her marriage or save herself and her children. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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  Book Jacket
1999
River, Cross My Heart
 Breena Clarke
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780316144230 YA-Set in Georgetown, this poignant coming-of-age story begins with the drowning death of six-year-old Clara Bynum. Johnnie May, at 12, was supposed to be minding her the morning the children went down to the river, knowing they were not allowed to play near it, much less swim in it. The Bynums had come to Washington, DC, from North Carolina looking for a better life, and life for the colored in Georgetown in the 1920s was better: plenty of work and good schools for the children. But Johnnie May's independent spirit causes trouble from the beginning. She is always asking why-why couldn't she swim in the pool on Volta Place, right across from Aunt Ina's house? Why does she always have to mind her little sister and clean up after her? Johnnie May is a natural leader, and "knowing her place" is a struggle. The story, which follows the Bynum family and friends in Georgetown for about a year, ends in triumph as Johnnie May wins a swim meet held in the new pool built for black people. Much of the book describes Johnnie May's relationships with her mother, her relatives, and her friends, painting a revealing picture of a river, a family, and a community.-Molly Connally, Kings Park Library, Fairfax County, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780316144230 Ten-year-old Johnnie Mae Bynum is haunted by the memory of her sister Clara, who drowned in the Potomac River at a point where the neighborhood children had been routinely warned against swimming. Five years older, Johnnie Mae had always been charged with Clara's care, so Clara's death stirs up guilt and confusion. Had she pushed Clara into the water or was she only guilty of neglect? The drowning changes the dynamics within the Bynum family, still coping with the move from South Carolina to the Georgetown area at the insistence of the mother, the strong-willed Alice Bynum, who wants opportunities for her children that she perceives exist in the North of the 1920s. Hence Alice both admires and fears Johnnie Mae's defiant resistance to segregated swimming pools, which chafes her own sense of racial injustice and political expedience. Clarke's first novel beautifully ties together themes of family tensions after the death of a child, a young girl's coming-of-age, and racial animosities in a small community. --Vanessa Bush
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780316144230 Debut writer and Washington, D.C., native, Clarke has written a novel as lyric and alternately beguiling and confounding as its title. It is the story of the drowning of a six-year-old child, and the tragedy's ramifications for her family and neighbors in the black area of Georgetown in 1925 D.C. Clarke's scene-building skills are the novel's strengths and occasionally its weaknesses, as each chapter is an intense set piece that sometimes provokes more questions than answers. The story is ultimately that of the effects of Clara Bynum's death on her 12-year-old sister, Johnnie Mae, who was babysitting Clara at the time she fell into the river. Johnnie Mae suffers guilt, fear and loss, endures dreams, imaginings and confusion as she sees visions of her sister everywhere: in a trauma-stung classmate who wears braids like Clara's, and the vapor from a boiling pot of green beans that resembles her sister's face. Against a felt, poignant and meticulously detailed panorama of the African-American (then called "colored") community of Georgetown, Johnnie Mae struggles to find her bearings, to cope with institutional and family expectations, and with puberty and race. Johnnie Mae ultimately derives strength from her element, the water, as she becomes a talented swimmer, but her parents Alice and Willie struggle with inextinguishable grief. From the first vivid description of the Potomac, liquid elements provide themes and narrative tension in this plangent coming-of-age story, granting the reader a necessary, if temporary, distancing from the blunt fact of a dead child. Indeed, Clarke's research about African-American Georgetown in the early 20th century revisits a time and place as intricate as any, but so remote from most memories that the historical details are fascinating footnotes to an era. While authorial asides are sometimes intrusive, this is a haunting story. Agent, Cynthia Cannell. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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