THE BORNING ROOM

From an innovative, highly talented novelist and poet (Joyful Noise, 1989 Newbery Award), a quiet cycle of episodes from the life of Georgina Lott, born on her father's Ohio farm in 1851 and eventually revealed to be narrating from her deathbed in the same little room, 67 years later. Meanwhile, other births and deaths have occurred there in the "borning room." Zeb is brought into the world with the help of an escaping slave whom Georgina has hidden without her parents' knowledge, hoping—at eight—to save them from the dire penalties for harboring a runaway. Grandfather, who loved the maple still visible through the window and who once shook hands with Franklin (whose pithy sayings the family enjoys), dies in peace despite the harassment of a zealous preacher. With an inexperienced doctor and a new drug (chloroform), Mama dies in childbirth, but the child survives—then and later, during a diphtheria epidemic. When she marries, Georgina recalls her mother, planning to "raise my children to love the words and music and to oppose injustice. I would bring her hack to life by becoming her." Soon after, she bears a daughter. Memorable characters and valuable glimpses of social history in a beautifully crafted novel. More important, there's much to ponder: the powerful continuity of talents, values, and ideas that can link generations; the real basics, life and death, habitually concealed in contemporary America. Not showy, but deeply rewarding. (Fiction. 11+)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1991

ISBN: 0-06-023762-7

Page Count: 112

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1991

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A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary,...

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THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE

The pitiless dictatorship of Francisco Franco examined through the voices of four teenagers: one American and three Spaniards.

The Spanish Civil War lasted from 1936-1939, but Franco held Spain by its throat for 36 years. Sepetys (Salt to the Sea, 2016, etc.) begins her novel in 1957. Daniel is a white Texan who wants to be a photojournalist, not an oilman; Ana is trying to work her way to respectability as a hotel maid; her brother, Rafael, wants to erase memories of an oppressive boys’ home; and Puri is a loving caregiver for babies awaiting adoption—together they provide alternating third-person lenses for viewing Spain during one of its most brutally repressive periods. Their lives run parallel and intersect as each tries to answer questions about truth and the path ahead within a regime that crushes any opposition, murders dissidents, and punishes their families while stealing babies to sell to parents with accepted political views. This formidable story will haunt those who ask hard questions about the past as it reveals the hopes and dreams of individuals in a nation trying to lie its way to the future. Meticulous research is presented through believable, complex characters on the brink of adulthood who personalize the questions we all must answer about our place in the world. 

A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary, photographs) (Historical fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-16031-8

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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THE BOOK THIEF

When Death tells a story, you pay attention. Liesel Meminger is a young girl growing up outside of Munich in Nazi Germany, and Death tells her story as “an attempt—a flying jump of an attempt—to prove to me that you, and your human existence, are worth it.” When her foster father helps her learn to read and she discovers the power of words, Liesel begins stealing books from Nazi book burnings and the mayor’s wife’s library. As she becomes a better reader, she becomes a writer, writing a book about her life in such a miserable time. Liesel’s experiences move Death to say, “I am haunted by humans.” How could the human race be “so ugly and so glorious” at the same time? This big, expansive novel is a leisurely working out of fate, of seemingly chance encounters and events that ultimately touch, like dominoes as they collide. The writing is elegant, philosophical and moving. Even at its length, it’s a work to read slowly and savor. Beautiful and important. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: March 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-83100-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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