Essential reading for all students of America’s complex history and culture.



From the Golden Mountain Chronicles series

Yep lays down another course of his now monumental, seven-generation family chronicle begun in Dragonwings (1975) with this tale of two Wyoming Territory outsiders—one an illegitimate white child, the other a US-born son of a Chinese coal miner—who witness the Rock Springs massacre, one of the most savage race riots in our history.

In alternating chapters (and typefaces), Joseph Young, or “Precious Light” as his father insists on calling him, and Michael Purdy, the washerwoman’s son, track rising tensions between the town’s Chinese and non-Chinese residents, as they themselves forge a secret, uncertain alliance in a fossil-filled cave they dub Star Rock. As hostile confrontations and public rallies gradually escalate into an all-out, armed assault on the Chinese camp, Yep methodically exposes the ugliness of racial hatred, with characters on both sides justifying irrational stances fueled by fear, misdirected anger, malicious intentions, and misunderstanding. Star Rock isn’t the only sign that better relations are possible, however, for to his astonishment, Michael finds his previously intolerant mother sheltering Joseph and his father from the general slaughter until they can flee—and the tale ends with both families about to re-connect in San Francisco. “You have the right dream,” a wiser Joseph tells his father Otter (protagonist of Dragon’s Gate [1993], and here a reviled, steadfastly pacifistic adult). “There just have to be more of us making that dream happen.” Yep caps his strong, chilling story with a historical afterword, then maps out his saga’s past and future episodes.

Essential reading for all students of America’s complex history and culture. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-027522-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2003

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A dysfunctional family in the neighborhood gives a young orphan new appreciation for her own abbreviated but loving household in this promising but uneven flashback. When the Wallings move across the street from Shanta Cola Morgan's Atlanta home during the last summer of WW II, she makes two quick friends: secretive Denise, nearly her own age, and Earl, a brain-damaged 21-year-old. Having been raised by her frail grandmother and Uncle Louie—who is nearly paralyzed by arthritis—Shanta envies Denise her parents, until she sees how joyless and cruel they are, and begins to suspect that the family is deeply troubled. Her suspicions are confirmed when she peeks into their cellar one night and finds Earl chained to a wall. Denise and Earl may be sketchily drawn, but Shanta and her grandmother are lively, loving spirits, and the quiet heroism with which Louie preserves hope and self-respect as both his body and his marriage disintegrate almost overshadows the main plot. Shanta frames this as a decades-old memory; despite the present- tense narration, the pacing is slow, and the efforts to draw parallels between the battles overseas and those closer to home are strained at best. Readers impressed by Oughton's Music From a Place Called Half Moon (1995) will find some equally vivid characters here, but may be disappointed by the low level of tension and a quick, too-tidy ending. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: March 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-395-81568-1

Page Count: 142

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1997

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Laboriously harking back to the pulp juveniles of yestercentury—or at least their melodramatic plotting and uncomplicated values—Bell presents the continued exploits of intrepid teen Nick McIver, boy time traveler. Bound and determined to become a hero “molded in the face of danger,” Nick stages a destructive raid on a Nazi airfield in 1940, then darts back to 1781 to rescue his kidnapped little sister from the clutches of hook-handed pirate Billy Blood in the Caribbean, recover from wounds at Mount Vernon (“What’s wrong wid dat po’ chile?” asks the estate’s Cook, before stitching him up sans anesthetic) then rescuing De Grasse’s French fleet from ambush off Nassau so it can sail north to ensure General Washington’s victory at Yorktown. Laced with old-timey language, wild coincidences, arbitrarily trotted-out bit players from the Marquis de Lafayette and Winston Churchill to the odd strumpet or Indian warrior, lurid murders (“The dying victims’ blood mingled with the juice from hundreds of crates of tomatoes”) and explosions aplenty, this doorstopper sequel to Nick of Time (2008) may have a certain retro appeal to adrenaline junkies. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 13, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-312-57810-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2010

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