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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Better Nate than ever
by Tim Federle

Book list In this funny and insightful story, the dreams of many a small-town, theater-loving boy are reflected in the starry eyes of eighth-grader Nate. When Nate hops a Greyhound bus to travel across Pennsylvania to try out for the Broadway-bound musical based on the movie E.T., no one but his best friend, Libby, knows about it; not his athletic brother, religious father, or unhappy mother. Self-reliant, almost to an inauthentic fault, he arrives in Manhattan for the first time and finds his way into the audition with dramatic results, and when his estranged actress/waitress aunt suddenly appears, a troubled family history and a useful subplot surface. Nate's emerging sexuality is tactfully addressed in an age-appropriate manner throughout, particularly in his wonderment at the differences between his hometown and N.Y.C., a world where guys . . . can dance next to other guys who probably liked Phantom of the Opera and not get threatened or assaulted. This talented first-time author has made the classic Chorus Line theme modern and bright for the Glee generation.--Medlar, Andrew Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Federle's hilarious and heartwarming debut novel follows 13-year-old musical theater-loving Nate Foster on his meticulously choreographed overnight getaway to New York City to audition for E.T.: The Musical. Catchy chapter titles framed in marquee lights ("This'll Be Fast: You Might as Well Meet Dad, Too") and running gags, like Nate's use of Broadway flops as epithets ("Moose Murders it all to tarnation!"), add to the theatrical atmosphere as Nate breathlessly narrates his backstory and real-time adventures. Federle (who has himself worked on Broadway) combines high-stakes drama with slapstick comedy as Nate travels by Greyhound bus-dying cellphone and dollars in hand-determined to get to the audition, conceal his lack of chaperone, and compete in the cutthroat world of child actors and stage parents. Nate's desperation to escape his stifling home environment, instant love affair with the city, questions about his sexuality, and relationship with his dysfunctional but sympathetic family add emotional depth. Federle's supporting characters affirm theater's "no small roles" adage, and E.T. references abound-like Elliott's bicycle in the film, this book soars. Ages 9-13. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-Irrepressible 13-year-old Nate Foster is certain that stardom awaits, as soon as he can leave his stifling life in small-town Jankburg, Pennsylvania, behind. Using his ever-loyal best friend, Libby, as an alibi, he sneaks away to New York City to audition for E.T.: The Musical. Nate and Libby have an endearing habit of using the names of Broadway flops as stand-ins for foul language. A madcap adventure featuring bossy receptionists, cutthroat fellow performers, and wacky casting directors follows. With the help of an understanding aunt, Nate remains goofy and upbeat in the face of constant criticism and rejection. A fun and suspenseful ending will leave readers guessing whether Nate scores the part or not. Federle's semiautobiographical debut explores weighty issues such as sibling rivalry, bullying, religious parents, and gay or questioning teens with a remarkably lighthearted and humorous touch totally appropriate for young audiences.-Madigan McGillicuddy, Atlanta-Fulton Public Library, Atlanta, GA (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family
by Ibtihaj Muhammad

Kirkus A young girl admires her older sister's "first-day hijab" in this team effort by hijabi Olympian Muhammad (Proud, 2018) and YA novelist Ali (Love From A to Z, 2019).Mama takes Asiyah and Faizah to the hijab shop so that Asiyah can pick out her "first-day hijab." Mama likes pink, but Asiyah picks out "the brightest blue." Faizah has a new backpack and light-up shoes for the first day of school, but when Asiyah walks out in her blue hijab, "It's the most beautiful first day of school ever. / I'm walking with a princess." Once they arrive at school, the reactions of other children alternate with spreads depicting Faizah's thoughts about Asiyah's hijab, which are paired with Mama's words. A girl whispers, asking Faizah about the hijab. But "Asiyah's hijab isn't a whisper"; according to Mama, "It means being strong." These spreads show Aly's close-up illustrations of a smiling Asiyah, with her blue hijab extending into an image of "the sky on a sunny day" or "the ocean waving to the sky." Faizah triumphs over the misunderstandings and bullying she witnesses, her pride in her sister still intact. This sensitive representation of family relationships that provide a loving coat of armor against the world's difficulties is memorable and inspiring. Bullies are depicted as faceless shadows, emphasizing the importance of discounting what they say. Faizah's family is black; the other schoolchildren are multiracial.Triumphant and true. (Picture book. 4-10) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

School Library Journal K-Gr 4—Faizah is excited for her first day of school but even more excited for her older sister, Asiya. Asiya is starting sixth grade with her brand-new blue hijab. As Faizah walks to the school in her new light-up shoes and backpack, she admires her sister who looks like a princess in her blue head scarf. At school, some students celebrate with her, some are ambivalent, and some faceless, nameless characters taunt her. Their mother has prepared the girls with wise words. When the kids in the school bully Asiya, she remembers her mother's advice to not carry hurtful words as "they are not yours to keep. They belong only to those who said them." The illustration and the colors are just as powerful as words conveying the passionate message of how to be proud of one's culture, individuality, and religion and how to stay strong and keep one's faith. This is an empowering book for young readers who can see themselves in Asiya or know someone like her. The touching and celebratory illustrations complement the quiet strength of Asiya as she steps into a beautiful and celebrated coming-of-age rite. VERDICT This excellent story about identity, visibility, and confidence, touches on rites of passage, bonds between sisters, and bullying and is unapologetic in tackling misconceptions and demanding equality.—Noureen Qadir-Jafar, Syosset Library, NY

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

Book list The first day of school is also the first day of hijab for little Faizah's sixth-grade sister, Asiya, who selects a beautiful shade of blue to wear. Faizah sees her sister as a princess, but not everyone shares her perspective. What's that on your sister's head? asks a classmate. At recess, someone shouts, I'm going to pull that tablecloth off your head! These moments teach Faizah to represent her culture with confidence: her whispered answers grow louder; she and her sister walk away from the bully. Muhammad and Ali's poetic prose has a reminiscent quality, with short sentences setting a thoughtful rhythm ( Mama holds out the pink. Mama loves pink. But Asiya shakes her head. I know why. Behind the counter is the brightest blue ) that allows the flourishes to shine ( The color of the ocean, if you squint your eyes and pretend there's no line between the water and the sky ). Aly's ink-wash-and-pencil illustrations settle and soar along with the language, swapping seamlessly between the concrete setting and metaphoric reflections on Asiya's hijab, the scarf's blue tail flowing out into curls of ocean or sky. This story, as both window and mirror, inevitably educates, but more important, it encourages pride in and respect for hijab through a tale of two sisters, their bond strengthened by faith.--Ronny Khuri Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly It’s the first day of school, and Faizah’s older sister Asiya, a sixth grader, has started wearing hijab in a brilliant, proud shade of blue. It’s “like the sky on a sunny day... special and regular” and reminds Faizah of “the ocean waving to the sky... always there, strong and friendly.” When a playground bully, portrayed by Aly (the Unicorn Rescue Society series) as a smudgy silhouette, taunts Asiya (“I’m going to pull that tablecloth off your head!”), Faizah fumes, glaring at the child and looking for “whispers, laughs, and shouts.” But when she sees how Asiya and her diverse friends, who share an easygoing confidence, dismiss the bully and get on with their fun, her sense of what’s “regular” is both restored and expanded. Hijabi U.S. Olympian Muhammad and YA author Ali (Love from A to Z) have created a lovely blend of emotional lyricism and closely observed everyday life. And Aly’s digitally enhanced ink and pencil scenes alternate between dreamy meditations of strength and empowerment, and snapshots of two sisters who are very much in the world—and mean the world to each other. Ages 4–8. Authors’ agents: Greg Ferguson, Full Fathom Five (for Muhammad) and John Cusick, Folio Jr. (for Ali). Illustrator’s agent: Robbin Brosterman, the Bright Agency. (Oct.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Bear Came Along
by Richard T. Morris

Publishers Weekly What begins as a solo log ride down a river for Bear turns into a group adventure as new forest animals join the pileup hurtling through the water. Each has a different approach to the wild ride: the turtles worry about what could go wrong, while the raccoons delight in the "twists and turns." All are surprised, though, when they realize where they're headed: a waterfall, which, after a dramatic plunge, lands them in a calm, communal pool. Text by Morris (Fear the Bunny) bounces along with appealing repetition and rhythm, but it's cleverly designed illustrations by Pham (Stop That Yawn!) that make this offering a standout choice for reading aloud. Varying perspectives amplify both the drama and the humor, particularly in wordless scenes that move from the vertiginous animals'-eye-view to their comically shocked faces to an aerial image that emphasizes how far the drop will be. And the forest's gradual color shifts, from muted grays to the brilliant hues in the final scene, echo the story's underlying message: connecting with others makes life richer, more vibrant, and a lot more fun. Ages 4-8. Author's agent: Alice Tasman, Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency. Illustrator's agent: Linda Pratt, Wernick & Pratt Literary Agency. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2–The dramatic cover, featuring a large hand-lettered title and a close-up of an alarmed-looking bear, sets the stage for a spirited adventure. Venturing out of his cave, a curious bear climbs out on a tree that breaks off and falls into a river. Starting what becomes a natural "log flume" ride, Bear initially moves slowly, picking up Froggy and the Turtles, then a string of various animals. Each creature gains specific knowledge through the quest. Bear doesn't know he was on an adventure until he finds Froggy. Froggy doesn't realize she has friends, until the Turtles join them, etc. Watercolor, ink, and gouache illustrations are well-designed to expand the text, using each animal's expressions and body language to convey their individual roles. Front and back end pages both act as maps of the river, but also provide an introduction and an epilogue to the tale. A dramatic spread, positioned from the animals' point of view, shows them on the edge of a precipice about to take the plunge. A page turn shifts to a facing view and all the creatures' wide-eyed expressions. One more turn pulls the focus out to long range, showcasing the river, the drop, and the animals perched precariously. As they fall, however, their expressions are mostly cheerful, then exuberant, ending with "Oh, what a ride!" VERDICT Full of messages about seizing the day and learning from one another, this jaunty tale and its large-scale, immersive pictures expansively invite readers to come along, too.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA

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

Book list A big brown bear doesn't know what a river can do until he falls in. As the water rushes on and he floats away on a log, Bear inadvertently finds a number of new friends. A frog hops on his head, turtles climb aboard, a beaver and raccoons drop in, and the whole gang crashes into a flock of ducks. All the while, the river is twisting and turning and heading for a deep-drop waterfall. The two-page spread in which the animals observe their fate is priceless, varying between uncertainty and shock. But the fall turns out to be much more delightful than anticipated, with even more new friends appearing. Anyone who fondly remembers the similarly themed Little Golden Book Big Brown Bear (and everyone else!) will have warm feelings toward this river-­riding fellow who isn't expecting what he finds but embraces the experience and happily accepts the friendships that come along with it. Pham's artwork here is delightful as she paints between the lines of sensational and silly. Her vivid colorings and imaginative design command attention, as does her focus on the blue water, which swirls and whirls with both fun and purpose. Most important, she uses her watercolor, ink, and gouache artwork to build the simple story to (mixing metaphors here) a breath-holding cliff-hanger. Perfect for listeners in story hours or on laps.--Ilene Cooper Copyright 2019 Booklist

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

Horn Book This boisterous adventure is about discovery and friendships forged when least expected--all in the form of a wild log-ride. A river "didnt know it was a river" until...Bear shows up. Bear doesn't know he's on an adventure until...a frog leaps onto his head. And so it goes until...the animals plummet over a waterfall in an exhilarating vertical spread. Pham's illustrations have a 1980s-cartoon feel yet remain fresh. (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.

Kirkus A succession of forest creaturesand even the river itselflearn from one another and validate their relationships with both one another and the wider world.The simplicity of the text and the stylized, comical creatures belie the depth of the message that comes through for even the youngest of readers: We are all in this together, and our differences strengthen our unity. The river "didn't know it was a riveruntil" Bear accidentally begins riding down it on a piece of broken tree trunk. Bear in turn doesn't realize he is on an adventure until Froggy lands on his back; lonely Froggy doesn't know how many friends she has until the wary Turtles show up on the ever-more-swiftly-moving log; the Turtles learn how to enjoy the ride when Beaver climbs aboard; and so on through several more characters until they are all at the brink of a waterfall. Outstanding art perfectly complements the text, showing the animals' differing personalities while also using color, space, and patterns to create appealing scenery. There are several hilarious double-page spreads, including one from the animals' collective perspective, showing solely the various feet on the tree-trunk-cum-raft at the waterfall's edge, and one requiring a 90-degree turn, showing the plummeting animals as they reach for one anothersome looking worried and others, like Duck and Beaver, obviously enjoying the sudden drop.To quote one particularly joyous double-page spread, "Oh, what a ride!" (author's note, illustrator's note) (Picture book. 2-5) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog A Slow Fire Burning
by Paula Hawkins

Publishers Weekly The stabbing murder of 23-year-old Daniel Sutherland on his houseboat in London’s Regent’s Canal drives this twist-laden if unremarkable page-turner from bestseller Hawkins (The Girl on the Train). Miriam Lewis, who lives in the neighboring vessel, finds the body and removes a bloody key from the scene before notifying the police. Decades earlier, Miriam survived a horrific attack, wrote an unpublished memoir about it, and shared the manuscript with Theo Myerson, who used it, without attribution, as the basis for a novel, The One Who Got Away. Theo, it turns out, is Daniel’s uncle by marriage, and his toddler son died from a fall at Daniel’s mother’s home. Another suspect is Laura Kilbride, who slept with Daniel on the night of his death; as a child, she suffered a skull fracture that affected her ability to self-regulate and has trouble functioning as an adult. Sections from The One Who Got Away and flashbacks add to the challenge of putting the puzzle pieces together. The result is a satisfying whodunit, but its overreliance on coincidence makes it fall short of the high standard of Hawkins’s previous work. Agent: Simon Lipskar, Writers House. (Aug.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list Here is the long-awaited third riveting thriller from the best-selling author of Into the Water (2017) and the global phenomenon that was The Girl on the Train (2015). A young man is found murdered in a London houseboat. Three damaged women have connections with him—some tenuous, some intense. Laura, who identifies as a “vulnerable adult,” has multiple social-behavior issues. A hit-and-run accident in her childhood left her broken physically and mentally and, eventually, psychically as well. Carla, the victim's aunt, is still coming to terms with the son she lost years ago and with the recent death of her sister, Angela, whom she held responsible for her son's catastrophic end. The victim is her nephew, Angela’s son. The third woman, Miriam, not only snoops, she also keeps a notebook! Laura describes her as a hobbit. She moves with “legs heavy as her heart.” Miriam survived an abduction at age 15 that claimed the life of her best friend. A fourth character, the poignant Irene, is a marvel of creation. Readers will witness courage and ingenuity where it is least expected, satisfying revenge where none was thought possible, and salvation that is painfully long overdue. Lee Child calls Hawkins an “intensely human” writer, and this book puts her on a par with the supreme Ruth Rendell. Packed with OMG moments, this novel may be slow burning, but it’s a scorcher nonetheless.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: That girl on the train continues to assure that Hawkins will draw readers, and her latest repays the investment handsomely.

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

Kirkus A young man has been stabbed to death on a houseboat...that much is clear. Hawkins' third novel, after her smash debut with The Girl on the Train (2015) and a weak follow-up with Into the Water (2017), gets off to a confusing start. A series of vignettes introduce numerous characters—Irene, Deidre, Laura, Miriam, Daniel (dead), Carla, Theo, Angela (dead)—all of whom live or lived in a very small geographical area and have overlapping connections and reasons to be furious at each other. We can all agree that the main question is who killed Daniel, the 23-year-old on the houseboat, but it is soon revealed that his estranged mother had died just a few weeks earlier—a drunk who probably fell, but maybe was pushed, down the stairs—and his cousin also fell to his death some years back. Untimely demise runs in the family. The highlight of these goings-on is Laura, a tiny but ferocious young woman who was seen running from Daniel's boat with blood on her mouth and clothes the last night he was alive. Physically and mentally disabled by an accident in her childhood, Laura is so used to being accused and wronged (and actually she is quite the sticky fingers) that she's not surprised when she's hauled in for Daniel's murder, though she's pretty sure she didn't do it. The secondary crimes and subplots include abduction, sexual assault, hit-and-run, petty larceny, plagiarism, bar brawling, breaking and entering, incest, and criminal negligence, and on top of all this there's a novel within a novel that mirrors events recalled in flashback by one of the characters. When Irene reads it, she's infuriated by "all the to-ing and fro-ing, all that jumping around in the timeline....Just start at the beginning, for god's sake. Why couldn't people just tell a story straight any longer, start to finish?" Hmmmmm. Overkill. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Kirkus A young man has been stabbed to death on a houseboat...that much is clear.Hawkins' third novel, after her smash debut with The Girl on the Train (2015) and a weak follow-up with Into the Water (2017), gets off to a confusing start. A series of vignettes introduce numerous charactersIrene, Deidre, Laura, Miriam, Daniel (dead), Carla, Theo, Angela (dead)all of whom live or lived in a very small geographical area and have overlapping connections and reasons to be furious at each other. We can all agree that the main question is who killed Daniel, the 23-year-old on the houseboat, but it is soon revealed that his estranged mother had died just a few weeks earliera drunk who probably fell, but maybe was pushed, down the stairsand his cousin also fell to his death some years back. Untimely demise runs in the family. The highlight of these goings-on is Laura, a tiny but ferocious young woman who was seen running from Daniel's boat with blood on her mouth and clothes the last night he was alive. Physically and mentally disabled by an accident in her childhood, Laura is so used to being accused and wronged (and actually she is quite the sticky fingers) that she's not surprised when she's hauled in for Daniel's murder, though she's pretty sure she didn't do it. The secondary crimes and subplots include abduction, sexual assault, hit-and-run, petty larceny, plagiarism, bar brawling, breaking and entering, incest, and criminal negligence, and on top of all this there's a novel within a novel that mirrors events recalled in flashback by one of the characters. When Irene reads it, she's infuriated by "all the to-ing and fro-ing, all that jumping around in the timeline....Just start at the beginning, for god's sake. Why couldn't people just tell a story straight any longer, start to finish?" Hmmmmm.Overkill. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Library Journal A young man is found brutally murdered on his gently rocking London houseboat, and the police immediately have three women in their sights: recent one-night stand Laura, prying neighbor Miriam, and Aunt Carla, already mourning another family death. Not surprisingly, a 500,000-copy first printing.

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

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog When You Reach Me
by Rebecca Stead

Book list *Starred Review* If this book makes your head hurt, you're not alone. Sixth-grader Miranda admits that the events she relates make her head hurt, too. Time travel will do that to you. The story takes place in 1979, though time frames, as readers learn, are relative. Miranda and Sal have been best friends since way before that. They both live in a tired Manhattan apartment building and walk home together from school. One day everything changes. Sal is kicked and punched by a schoolmate and afterward barely acknowledges Miranda. Which leaves her to make new friends, even as she continues to reread her ratty copy of A Wrinkle in Time and tutor her mother for a chance to compete on The $20,000 Pyramid. She also ponders a puzzling, even alarming series of events that begins with a note: I am coming to save your friend's life, and my own . . . you must write me a letter. Miranda's first-person narrative is the letter she is sending to the future. Or is it the past? It's hard to know if the key events ultimately make sense (head hurting!), and it seems the whys, if not the hows, of a pivotal character's actions are not truly explained. Yet everything else is quite wonderful. The '70s New York setting is an honest reverberation of the era; the mental gymnastics required of readers are invigorating; and the characters, children and adults, are honest bits of humanity no matter in what place or time their souls rest. Just as Miranda rereads L'Engle, children will return to this.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2009 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-Sixth-grader Miranda lives in 1978 New York City with her mother, and her life compass is Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. When she receives a series of enigmatic notes that claim to want to save her life, she comes to believe that they are from someone who knows the future. Miranda spends considerable time observing a raving vagrant who her mother calls "the laughing man" and trying to find the connection between the notes and her everyday life. Discerning readers will realize the ties between Miranda's mystery and L'Engle's plot, but will enjoy hints of fantasy and descriptions of middle school dynamics. Stead's novel is as much about character as story. Miranda's voice rings true with its faltering attempts at maturity and observation. The story builds slowly, emerging naturally from a sturdy premise. As Miranda reminisces, the time sequencing is somewhat challenging, but in an intriguing way. The setting is consistently strong. The stores and even the streets-in Miranda's neighborhood act as physical entities and impact the plot in tangible ways. This unusual, thought-provoking mystery will appeal to several types of readers.-Caitlin Augusta, The Darien Library, CT (c) Copyright 2010. 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 Twelve-year-old Miranda, a latchkey kid whose single mother is a law school dropout, narrates this complex novel, a work of science fiction grounded in the nitty-gritty of Manhattan life in the late 1970s. Miranda's story is set in motion by the appearance of cryptic notes that suggest that someone is watching her and that they know things about her life that have not yet happened. She's especially freaked out by one that reads: "I'm coming to save your friend's life, and my own." Over the course of her sixth-grade year, Miranda details three distinct plot threads: her mother's upcoming appearance on The $20,000 Pyramid; the sudden rupture of Miranda's lifelong friendship with neighbor Sal; and the unsettling appearance of a deranged homeless person dubbed "the laughing man." Eventually and improbably, these strands converge to form a thought-provoking whole. Stead (First Light) accomplishes this by making every detail count, including Miranda's name, her hobby of knot tying and her favorite book, Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. It's easy to imagine readers studying Miranda's story as many times as she's read L'Engle's, and spending hours pondering the provocative questions it raises. Ages 9-14. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog Gap Creek
by Robert Morgan

Book list Whatever trials Job suffered were nothing compared to the tribulations that befall Julie Harmon Richards. Following the deaths of her younger brother and father, 17-year-old Julie takes one look at 18-year-old Hank Richards and falls in love. Following their marriage a month later, the two move from their North Carolina homes to Gap Creek, South Carolina, where Hank works at a cotton mill and Julie cooks and cleans for a Mr. Pendergast in exchange for room and board. Pendergast is fatally injured trying to rescue his hidden savings during a devastating fire, and Julie, now pregnant, gives all of Pendergast's money to a man who tells her he is the lawyer for the bank that holds the mortgage on the house. Gap Creek floods and the house is ruined. Julie's baby lives only for a few months. Finally, Pendergast's heirs show up, so Hank and Julie, now pregnant again, leave Gap Creek for an uncertain future. Although Morgan, author of The Truest Pleasure (1995), has written better novels, even readers numbed by the seemingly endless series of disasters will respect Julie's strength of character and wish her well. (Reviewed September 1, 1999)1565122429Nancy Pearl

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

Library Journal Hard work and suffering seem to be Julie Harmon's lot in life. The ablest bodied of her family and in her teens, she works like a man in the fields to support the rest. After her younger brother dies in her arms, and her father follows, little wonder that she jumps at the chance to marry handsome Hank. He hits her and proves unable to hold a job, though their lovemaking sometimes becomes a rare respite from her life's misery. A fire during a vividly described hog-rendering scene kills their landlord, throwing their future into doubt. By the eviction scene, many listeners will be rolling their eyes. Authenticity redeems the novel, along with Julie's first-person narrationDsimple, uneducated, but ringing true. Reader Jill Hill captures Julie's voice wonderfully, adding a nervous little giggle that endears. She sometimes stops between sentences, though, slowing the narrative flow. Morgan's novel was Oprah Winfrey's January 2000 selection, so patrons will want this title.DJohn Hiett, Iowa City P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. 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.

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