PositiveLibrary Journal... [a] beautiful remembrance of things past ... Cisneros draws upon her considerable talents as both a novelist/storyteller and a poet to expertly structure her novella, contrasting the joyful and carefree (or careless) nature of the youthful Puffina with the responsible, mature, almost stoic Corina, who is finishing the laborious task of stripping varnish in the Chicago apartment she shares with her husband, Richard, a man whom she loves but with whom she is not in love ... This bilingual edition sparkles with life even as it exudes the poignancy and bittersweet reminiscences of the dreams that eventually eluded Corina. Recommended for most fiction collections.
PositiveLibrary JournalMcKinney’s coming-of-age story could have easily been wrapped up with a sweet bow. But her plot never falters as it stays true to the messiness of love in a family struggling with secrets, and to two young women wrestling with opposing viewpoints about womanhood. Abigail and Caroline are complex, rational, three-dimensional characters willing to question everything, even their trust in each other. Many readers will enjoy.
RaveLibrary JournalDeploying multiple voices does diminish the depth of character development, but Coster’s cast of characters is unique, creating a tapestry that allows the various individuals to explore a past they may try to escape but can’t leave behind completely. Despite its sprawling time line and multiple perspectives, the novel remains an intimate portrait of families shaped by love, motherhood, race, and class.
PositiveLibrary Journal... [a] strong debut ... Quotah’s family saga effectively captures the struggles of immigrants straddling two cultures, while reiterating beautifully the imperfections of all families characterized by loss, betrayal, and secrets. Only some slow pacing in the narrative’s middle, and less development of Saeedah’s perspective, compared to that of Muneer and Hanadi, mar an otherwise welcome exploration of Saudi Arabian–American history, culture, and traditions.
PositiveLibrary JournalVera’s saga is impeccably timed to provide insights into the troubling history of Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States, and showing that the colonization of puertorriqueños extended to the Pacific fills a gap in history for many. Recommended for anyone who enjoys epic stories of hardship and loss as well as the perseverance, love, and strength drawn from one’s family and culture.
MixedLibrary JournalThough occasionally disjointed, this novel offers a unique exploration of trauma and loss and how they shape both personal and national identities.
Saud Alsanousi Trans. by Sawad Hussain
PositiveLibrary JournalKatkout’s memories, nostalgic and sometimes funny even while recalling the horror of the invasion, contrast sharply with the somewhat frenzied present-day account of the chaos produced by the sectarian conflict and amplified by Katkout’s desperate and dangerous search when his friends go missing ... Unfortunately, the social disorder experienced by the main characters is mirrored in the plot, complicating an already complex story, and uneven pacing detracts from the novel’s exploration into whether friendships can overcome generations of religious and ethnic differences. No match for Alsanousi’s well-received debut.
Fiona Alison Duncan
PositiveLibrary Journal... a coming-of-age work that satisfies with Fiona’s many, often brilliant observations about relationships, art, drug use, astrology, sexuality, and capitalism ... As metafiction, this work will ultimately disappoint those seeking (if not longing for) a discernible, less self-conscious narrative, but it’s a provocative, original, and even chaotic understanding of reality and the rapid social, technological, and economic changes facing everyone, not just millennials.
Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
RaveLibrary JournalSexton weaves well-crafted intergenerational narratives, each set in a different era and each giving voice to strong women of color ... The dynamics of a brutal past encompassing violence and racial inequality is core here, but the narrative is significant for acknowledging that elements of that past are not completely past and for portraying two fearless women separated by time but both dealing with white women’s racism. Recommended for all collections.
Xuan Juliana Wang
RaveLibrary Journalhis delightful debut collection of 12 stories should land on multiple must-read lists. Wang has captured the spirit and energy of contemporary Chinese youth seeking adventures abroad while navigating geographical and cultural boundaries ... Wang’s stories are funny, generous, and surprising as they introduce a youthful demographic that is growing worldwide. Highly recommended for all fiction collections.
PositiveLibrary JournalBunny is so sardonic as to be completely unsympathetic, but this is exactly what makes her such an intriguing and complex character ... Kirshenbaum has excelled at capturing one woman’s disturbing mental illness and the daily struggles to cope with survival even in a setting that supposedly offers support and rehabilitation. Drawing parallels to Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest comes easily because of the similar setting and a cast of characters supporting the main character. Recommended.
RaveLibrary JournalThrough well-developed characters and a wonderfully paced narrative, she exposes the impact that the embedded patriarchy of some cultures can have on women while showing more broadly how years of shame, secrets, and betrayal can burden families across generations no matter what the cultural or religious affiliation. Highly recommended.
Bernice L. McFadden
RaveLibrary JournalHeartbreaking yet ultimately redeeming, this strong survivor\'s tale is told with unadorned prose and a well-paced plot. Abeo\'s story is compelling, but seeing how the adults in Abeo\'s life rationalize their betrayal is even more horrifically fascinating. Recommended, especially as an introduction to a lesser-known cultural practice that has become widely criminalized.