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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog What Girls Are Made Of
by Arnold, Elana

Book list *Starred Review* Publishers say that historical fiction is a hard sell, and books with religion at their core are few and far between. Kudos, then, to Berry (All the Truth That's in Me, 2013) for creating a sweeping saga that not only deeply entwines both but also dissects its characters' humanity as it looks at the often troubling beliefs that underlay their actions. The story-within-a-story begins in 1290. A friar is gathering papers and testimonies that will show how the inquisitions here on the border of France and Spain were God's holy work. But one tale troubles him, so much so that he begins to stitch the strands together, and that is where the main story begins. Botille is a sassy teenager who makes money in her seaside village of Bajas by matchmaking. A disruptive childhood and a drunken father has bound Botille and her sisters closely together, but their lives are good: Plazensa runs the tavern, Botille makes her matches, and Sazia tells fortunes with uncanny accuracy. To the north, in Tolosos, there is another girl, Dolssa. Aristocratic by birth and a mystic by the grace of God, she spends her days with her beloved, Jesus, who wraps her in his murmurs and consumes her with his love. That much love cannot be contained, and Dolssa begins telling others how much her beloved cherishes all people. The simplicity of her message is seen by the inquisitors as a threat to the church, a devil's deception, and there is only one place it can end: in a public burning. Miraculously, Dolssa escapes the pyre. She wanders until she meets Botille, who saves and shelters her. This beautifully crafted plot would be enough on its own, but Berry does so much more. First, she establishes a convincing setting, in part by peppering the dialogue with Old ProvenÁal language. Using many voices, some of which, including Botille and Dolssa, relate their own stories, she picks beneath words and actions to expose the motives of the heart, revealing how lofty ideas can turn into terrorizing actions, and how fear and self-preservation can make friends and neighbors turn on one another. Yet despite the book's gravity, Berry also manages to infuse her story with laughter and light welcome surprises. The final surprise awaiting readers at the book's conclusion adds yet another layer to the storytelling. Also at the book's end, Berry has included a wealth of back matter, a glossary, a list of characters (possibly of more help if placed at the book's beginning), and an author's note explaining the roots of the religious discord, inquisitions, and wars, and touching on such female mystics as Hildegard of Bingen, who is referenced in the novel. The beauty of historical fiction is that it brings to life long-ago times and places even as it shows how hopes, fears, and dreams remain constant across the ages. The strength of religious-centric novels is their revelation of the myriad ways people grapple with their faith and spirituality. The Passion of Dolssa's rich brew will leave readers thinking about all of these things, even as it profoundly influences their own struggles and questions.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2016 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Horn Book A (fictional) Catholic mystic, Dolssa de Stigata, escapes being burned as a heretic in 1241 France; mostly, this is the story of Botille, an enterprising young matchmaker from a tiny fishing village who rescues Dolssa. Botille's spirited character, the heart-rending suspense of events, and the terrifying context of the Inquisition in medieval Europe all render the novel irresistibly compelling. Historical note appended. Bib., glos. (c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-This magnificent tale is set in post-Crusades 13th-century France. A pious young noblewoman blessed with the gift of healing, Dolssa de Stigata is judged a heretic by the Roman Catholic Church and sentenced to burn at the stake. Forced to watch her beloved mother burn first, Dolssa is surprised when someone cuts the ropes binding her hands and feet and implores her to run. Driven into hiding from the churchmen dispatched to track her down, Dolssa is found nearly dead from starvation and exhaustion by a young tavern keeper and matchmaker, Botille, who vows to protect the young heretic despite the danger posed to herself and her family. Unlikely allies, the girls unwittingly put an entire village at risk in their effort to stand up for their beliefs. The account is told in alternating voices by Dolssa, Botille, and Arnaut d'Avinhonet, a Dominican friar. This lush and compelling book is enhanced by brilliant narration by Jayne Entwistle, Allen Corduner, and Fiona Hardingham. Lucky listeners will be haunted by their voices long after the book concludes. VERDICT Highly recommended for all junior high and high school audio collections. ["An expertly crafted piece of historical fiction, Berry's latest is a must for middle and high school libraries": SLJ 3/16 starred review of the Viking book.]-Lisa E. Hubler, Charles F. Brush High School, Lyndhurst, OH © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-Botille is a matchmaker in the small seaside town of Bajas in medieval France. She struggles to run the family's tavern and keep her sisters and herself afloat. Dolssa is a young woman with a secret that she can't help but share-her lover is God, and she speaks to him regularly. When the two young women cross paths, both deep friendship and mortal peril await them. A beautifully rendered portrait of a little-known portion of history, this work is a meticulously researched piece of fiction. Yet it is not just in the accurate details that the novel shines. The strength and humanity of the almost entirely female set of characters are inspiring and well drawn. The panic and suspicion of post-Inquisition France is omnipresent, giving the story of a supposed heretic a constant edge of danger. As the novel slips in and out of magical realism, readers will be transported into Dolssa and Botille's world. VERDICT An expertly crafted piece of historical fiction, Berry's latest is a must for middle and high school libraries.-Erinn Black Salge, Saint Peter's Prep, Jersey City, NJ © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus A girl matchmaker in 13th-century southern France meets a mystic on the run from the Inquisition. A generation after the horrors of the Albigensian Crusade, the elders are still broken by memories of entire towns put to the sword, but the younger folk, such as Botille and her sisters, focus on the present. After a childhood on the run, the sisters seek stability in poverty-stricken Bajas: brewing ale, telling fortunes, and helping their neighbors. Bajas is depicted through a scattering of third- and first-person viewpoints (but primarily Botille's) as a town where all look out for one other as a matter of course, where goodness is found in prostitutes, fishermen, hustlers, and drunks. Bajas' generosity is challenged when Botille discovers Dolssa, an injured, spirit-shattered girl on the run. Dolssa's a convicted heretic for speaking publicly of her intimate relationship with "her beloved...Senhor Jhesus." She trails miracles like bread crumbs, from a never-emptying ale jug to repeated uncanny cures. The villagers venerate her, but the arrival of the Inquisitionin a world where branding and burnings are mild punishments compared to recent historyputs their goodness to the test. The slow build reveals Botille as a compelling, admirable young woman in a gorgeously built world that accepts miracles without question. The medieval Languedoc countryside is so believably drawn there's no need for the too-frequent italicized interjections in Old Provenal that pepper the narrative. Immersive and mesmerizing. (character list, historical note, glossary, bibliography) (Historical fantasy. 14-17) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-Two young women-Botille, a tavern wench, and Dolssa, a noblewoman possibly in communion with God-form a deep bond in a world that seeks to destroy them. Berry has reimagined 13th-century France with vigor, from the small intricacies of daily village life to the brutal ruthlessness of the Inquisition. Readers looking for a work steeped in female friendship, mysticism, and blood, with extensive back matter to boot, will be well rewarded. © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly When Botille Flasucra finds Dolssa de Stigata lying on a riverside close to death, she takes the stranger to her family's tavern. Botille, a young matchmaker, and her sisters nurse Dolssa back to health in secret-a Dominican friar obsessively hunts Dolssa, whom he condemned as a heretic to be burned at the stake. The year is 1241 in Provensa (now Provence), where the aftereffects of the Albigensian Crusade have led to an inquisition meant to rid the Christian world of heretics. Dolssa, however, feels called to heal the sick in the name of her beloved Jhesus, and her miracles eventually bring danger to the small town of Bajas. Berry (All the Truth That's in Me) again delivers an utterly original and instantly engrossing story. Drawing from meticulous historical research (highlighted in extensive back matter), she weaves a tense, moving portrait of these two teenage girls and their struggle to survive against insurmountable odds. Love, faith, violence, and power intertwine in Berry's lyrical writing, but Botille's and Dolssa's indomitable spirits are the heart of her story. Ages 12-up. Agent: Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Trident Media Group. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog The Book Rescuer: How a Mensch from Massachusetts Saved Yiddish Literature for Generations to Come.
by Sue Macy

School Library Journal Gr 1–4—Aaron Lansky could not forget what his grandmother told him as a child. At the age of 16, she immigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe. In his twenties, Lansky decided to find out more about his grandmother's stories, which set him on a journey to learn how to speak and read Yiddish and to also locate Yiddish books. The result is the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA. Lansky's story is a fascinating one, filled with book rescues and meeting older people who not only treasure books but what they represent. His disappointments and rewards in pursuing this passion are well portrayed. The narrative is both informative and engaging and includes Yiddish words, many of which have been incorporated into English. All appear in a glossary. An afterword by Lansky himself brings the Center and his work up to date. Illustrations intentionally call to mind the bold line and semi-abstraction of Russian-born artist Marc Chagall. VERDICT A potentially valuable addition to both school and public libraries as well as Jewish schools. Echoing Carole Boston Weatherford's Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library, the book's narrative shows that pursuing interests can lead to meaningful and long-lasting results.—Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list Yiddish was a dying language (it's still not robust) when a young man, Aaron Lansky, decided to save it. Macy begins the story several generations back, with Lansky's grandmother arriving in America: her suitcase was thrown in the ocean by her brother out with the old, in with the new. Flash-forward to the 1970s, and Aaron is in college, studying Jewish history, and he wants to read books in the common language of European Jews in past centuries, Yiddish. But after the Holocaust and the diaspora of European Jewry, the number of people speaking Yiddish plummeted. Yiddish books were also disappearing, so Lansky decided to make it his mission to rescue them and his ancestors' heritage. Macy's text details how Lansky's pursuit took him out in all kinds of weather, to all kinds of places, where elderly Jews gave him an education in their lives and the importance of their books. An afterword by Lansky tells readers about the Yiddish Book Center, a vibrant organization that, among many other things, fosters learning the language. The story comes alive through the bold acrylic and gouache art, which illustrator Innerst says was inspired by the ""exuberant motifs"" of Marc Chagall. He finds drama in faces, profundity in the weight and number of books. The most outstanding spread places a shtetl on Yiddish pages that resemble matzo. Yiddish appears throughout the text; a glossary explains the words.--Ilene Cooper Copyright 2019 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Kirkus One young man seeks out a unique collection of Yiddish books to preserve them and their lost world.Growing up, Aaron Lansky remembered the story of his grandmother's immigration to America. She had just one worn suitcase, filled with books in Yiddish and Sabbath candlestickswhich her brother tossed into the water upon greeting her. It was of the Old World, and she was in the New World. Lansky loved reading but realized that to pursue his interest in Jewish literature he would have to study Yiddish, his grandmother's language. His search for books in Yiddish led to one rabbi about to bury a pile, which led to years of rescuing books from dumpsters and then building a depository for them and for the thousands of subsequent donations. Lansky visited many of the donors and heard their emotional stories. Now a well-established resource in Amherst, Massachusetts, his Yiddish Book Center is digitized, with free downloads, and conducts educational programs. Macy's text beautifully and dramatically tells this story while noting the powerful influence of Yiddish writing in the lives of Jews. Innerst's acrylic and gouache artwork, with the addition of digitized fabric textures, is stunning in its homage to Marc Chagall and its evocation of an Eastern European world that has physically vanished but is alive in these pages of beautifully realized imagery.For lovers of books and libraries. (afterword by Lansky, author's note, illustrator's note, Yiddish glossary, further resources, source notes, photographs) (Picture book/biography. 7-10) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Horn Book Aaron Lansky's difficulty in finding Yiddish novels for his college studies led him to collect books first for his own purposes, then for the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts (which he founded), starting in 1980. Stories of how he obtained them--meetings ‚€˜over tea and cake and lokshn kugl‚€™ with older Jews; a late-night dash to a dumpster--lend both human interest and a sense of urgency to the mission. Painterly illustrations give readers plenty to peruse, with sprinkled Yiddish words and visual references to Jewish history and culture. Reading list. Glos. (c) Copyright 2021. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly This inspired pairing of two top picture book biographers tells the story of Aaron Lansky, an “all-American boy” (a Star Trek poster decorates his bedroom) who in college became convinced that Yiddish books represented the “portable homeland” of the Jewish people. With Yiddish dying out after the Holocaust and little mainstream support (“Yiddish was a language whose time had passed”), Lansky learned the language, then began saving Yiddish books any way he could. He pulled nearly 5,000 out of a dumpster and accepted “one book at a time” from elderly owners (“We didn’t eat much,” one book donor tearfully tells him, “but we always bought a book. It was a necessity of life”). Founded in 1980, Lansky’s Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Mass., is today home to 1.5 million rescued books and is a hub of Yiddish studies. Innerst (Ruth Bader Ginsburg), who notes in an afterword that his illustrations were inspired by Chagall, contributes dramatic, textural acrylic and gouache images, with sculptural figures, expressionistic settings, and the deep, rich tones of vintage book bindings. Evoking both a lost past and an urgent present, they’re a marvelous complement to the journalistic, propulsive narrative by Macy (Motor Girls). Ages 5–8. (Oct.)

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New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog Rock Paper Scissors
by Alice Feeney

Publishers Weekly Londoners Amelia and Adam Wright, the couple at the center of this craftily plotted if flawed domestic thriller from bestseller Feeney (His & Hers), are spending the weekend at spooky Blackwater Chapel in the Scottish Highlands on what is meant to be a last-ditch effort to save their 10-year marriage. Each harbors darker agendas for the weekend, as does the mysterious, hermit-like neighbor, Robin, who frightens Amelia when Amelia catches the woman peering at her through a chapel window. The plot takes some perilous turns in ways both predictable—a power outage, dangerously loose stones in the wall of the chapel’s belfry—and not, as alternating narrations from the trio open a Pandora’s box packed with secrets, lies, and betrayals. Feeney’s signature misdirection sets up gasp-worthy twists down the stretch even if they, like the characters, come off as arbitrary and artificial. In contrast to His & Hers, some may walk away from this one feeling more snookered than satisfied. Agent: Jonny Geller, Curtis Brown. (Sept.)

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Kirkus An unhappy British couple attempt to rekindle the magic with a weekend trip to a remote spot in Scotland. How is she tricking me? Feeney, the author of Sometimes I Lie (2017) and His and Hers (2020), has trained her readers to start asking this question immediately with her puzzle-box narratives. Well, you won't find out here. Only the basics: Amelia's won a weekend getaway in an office raffle, and as the novel opens, she and her screenwriter husband, Adam, who suffers from face blindness, along with their dog, Bob, are miserably making their way through a snowstorm to a destination in the Scottish Highlands which is no Airbnb Superhost, that's for sure. A freezing cold, barely converted church with many locked rooms and malfunctioning electricity, the property also features a mysterious caretaker who has left firewood and a nice note but seems to be spying through the window. Both Adam and Amelia seem to be considering this weekend the occasion for ending the marriage by any means necessary—then Bob disappears. The narrative goes back and forth with first-person chapters by Amelia and Adam interleaved with a series of letters written to Adam on their anniversary through the years and keyed to the traditional gifts: paper, cotton, wood, leather, etc. There's also a rock and a scissors, referring to the children's game of the book title, which the couple use to make everyday decisions like "Should we stay together?" Offstage is the famous writer Henry Winter, whose novels Adam has made his fortune adapting; through several author-characters, Feeney weaves in sometimes-grim observations about the literary life. On meeting a sourpuss cashier at the rural grocery store: "The woman wore her bitterness like a badge; the kind of person who writes one-star book reviews." This complicated gothic thriller of dueling spouses and homicidal writers is cleverly plotted and neatly tied up. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog New Kid
by Jerry Craft

Horn Book Jordan, an African American seventh grader from Washington Heights, confronts both covert and overt racism in his first year at a prestigious academy, but he also develops supportive relationships with classmates of different races. Artist Jordan's sketchbook is shown in interludes throughout the engaging graphic novel's main narrative; Craft's full-color comics art is dynamic and expressive. A robust, contemporary depiction of a preteen navigating sometimes hostile spaces yet staying true to himself. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list *Starred Review* Don't let the title fool you. Seventh-grader Jordan Banks may be the new kid at his upper-crust private school, but this remarkably honest and accessible story is not just about being new; it's unabashedly about race. Example after uncomfortable example hits the mark: casual assumptions about black students' families and financial status, black students being mistaken for one another, well-intentioned teachers awkwardly stumbling over language, competition over skin tones among the black students themselves. Yet it's clear that everyone has a burden to bear, from the weird girl to the blond boy who lives in a mansion, and, indeed, Jordan only learns to navigate his new world by not falling back on his own assumptions. Craft's easy-going art and ingenious use of visual metaphor loosen things up considerably, and excerpts from Jordan's sketch book provide several funny, poignant, and insightful asides. It helps keep things light and approachable even as Jordan's parents tussle over the question of what's best for their son to follow the world's harsh rules so he can fit in or try to pave his own difficult road. A few climactic moments of resolution feel a touch too pat, but Craft's voice rings urgent and empathetic. Speaking up about the unrepresented experience of so many students makes this a necessary book, particularly for this age group. Possibly one of the most important graphic novels of the year.--Jesse Karp Copyright 2018 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Kirkus Jordan Banks takes readers down the rabbit hole and into his mostly white prep school in this heartbreakingly accurate middle-grade tale of race, class, microaggressions, and the quest for self-identity.He may be the new kid, but as an African-American boy from Washington Heights, that stigma entails so much more than getting lost on the way to homeroom. Riverdale Academy Day School, located at the opposite end of Manhattan, is a world away, and Jordan finds himself a stranger in a foreign land, where pink clothing is called salmon, white administrators mistake a veteran African-American teacher for the football coach, and white classmates ape African-American Vernacular English to make themselves sound cool. Jordan's a gifted artist, and his drawings blend with the narrative to give readers a full sense of his two worlds and his methods of coping with existing in between. Craft skillfully employs the graphic-novel format to its full advantage, giving his readers a delightful and authentic cast of characters who, along with New York itself, pop off the page with vibrancy and nuance. Shrinking Jordan to ant-sized proportions upon his entering the school cafeteria, for instance, transforms the lunchroom into a grotesque Wonderland in which his lack of social standing becomes visually arresting and viscerally uncomfortable.An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in America. (Graphic fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Riverdale Academy Day School is every parent's dream for their child: it has a beautiful sprawling campus, a rigorous academic curriculum, and ample extracurricular activities. It's also distinctly lacking in diversity. African-American new kid Jordan Banks would rather go to art school, but his parents have enrolled him, so he dutifully commutes to the Bronx from his home in Washington Heights, Manhattan. When he's not being confused with the few other students of color, he is being spoken to in slang, is receiving looks when financial aid is mentioned, or is forced to navigate many more micro-aggressions. Artwork by Craft interweaves the story with Jordan's sketchbook drawings, which convey the tension of existing in two markedly different places. The sketches show him being called "angry" for his observations, feeling minuscule in a cafeteria, and traveling by public transportation across different socioeconomic and racially segregated neighborhoods, changing his outfit and demeanor to fit in. This engaging story offers an authentic secondary cast and captures the high jinks of middle schoolers and the tensions that come with being a person of color in a traditionally white space. Ages 8-12. Agent: Judy Hansen, Hansen Literary. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 4-7-Jordan Banks is anxious about being the new kid at Riverdale, especially since he'd rather be going to art school. He's even more nervous when he realizes that, unlike in his Washington Heights neighborhood, at Riverdale, he's one of the few kids of color. Despite some setbacks, Jordan eventually makes a few friends and chronicles his experiences in his sketch pad. This is more than a story about being the new kid-it's a complex examination of the micro- and macroaggressions that Jordan endures from classmates and teachers. He is regularly mistaken for the other black kids at school. A teacher calls another black student by the wrong name and singles him out during discussions on financial aid. Even Jordan's supportive parents don't always understand the extent of the racism he faces. This book opens doors for additional discussion. Craft's illustrations are at their best during the vibrant full-page spreads. The art loses a bit of detail during crowd scenes, but the characters' emotions are always well conveyed. Jordan's black-and-white notebook drawings are the highlight of this work, combining effective social commentary with the protagonist's humorous voice. VERDICT Highly recommended for all middle grade shelves.-Gretchen Hardin, Sterling Municipal Library, Baytown, TX © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog The Poisonwood Bible
by Barbara Kingsolver

Library Journal: 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.

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly: 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.

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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