September 1, 2017 Booklist 55 www.booklistonline.com
munity, but neither herbal remedies nor love
for her child offers any cures for the toxicity of
her husband’s addictions, abuse, and neglect.
As her desperate family situation disintegrates,
Jennie sets out to chase her dream of becoming
a physician. Leaving past hurts behind is easier
said than done, and Jennie must chart a path
through the pain that threatens any chance of
future joy. Kirkpatrick is an unwavering pillar
in historical fiction, showcasing the power of
her meticulously researched and richly rendered details. Heart-wrenching and heavy with
the emotional trauma and confusion of the
children of addicts, this is a story of fallibility
and determination, of failing but still showing
up. Kirkpatrick offers an ode to the hardwork-ing women and mothers who face head-on the
pressures of family, social status, and career
while fighting for their dreams. —Kate Campos
Beyond the Rice Fields.
By Naivo. Tr. by Allison M. Charette.
Oct. 2017. 400p. Restless, paper, $19.99
The most powerful historical fiction shines
light on past horrors through the eyes of everyday people who have to find their way forward
no matter how tortuous the path. Naivo’s debut,
the first novel from Madagascar to be translated
from Malagasy into English, does just that.
During the mid-nineteenth century, thousands
of Malagasy Christians were persecuted and put
to death by Madagascar’s Queen Ranavalona,
who feared the incursion of missionary outsiders. This horrific dark stain of past persecution,
so resonant now, shapes Naivo’s story, which
alternates between Tsito, a slave boy, and Fara,
the young girl who becomes his owner. The
many characters and events can be dizzying,
even overwhelming, yet the narrative arc, complete with lush descriptions of the rice fields of
Sahasoa and the capital, Antananarivo, or the
“City of Thousands,” is precise and effective. In
all, Naivo has created a sharp and memorable
tale of young lives caught in the cross fire of
seismic events, and a significant novel that deservedly shines light on a little-known chapter
of world history. —Poornima Apte
YA/M: Steadfast YA readers with patience
for denser narratives will be rewarded
with a story that richly shows how history
shapes everybody swept up in its tides. PA.
Everyone Is Watching.
By Megan Bradbury.
Oct. 2017. 288p. Picador, paper, $14.95 (9781509809769).
Bradbury’s patchwork first novel focuses on
New York as a wellspring of creativity, a multi-
faceted city presented through the eyes of four
real-life movers and shakers: poet Walt Whit-
man, city planner and master builder Robert
Moses, photographer Robert Mapplethorpe,
and novelist Edmund White. Calling a novel
of White’s “a book that was both fact and fic-
tion,” Bradbury might well be describing her
own. Expanding the novel’s form, she writes
in a straightforward, unadorned style that
finds expression in 68 short, often impres-
sionistic chapters that move from character
to character and back and forward in time
(“It is difficult to leave the past alone,” White
muses). Accordingly, the novel encompasses
more than a century as it explores the varieties
of art and two principal themes: the intercon-
nectedness of things and the importance of
love (“Art can’t exist without love,” a character
declares at one point). It is Bradbury’s artful
expression of love for the city that propels her
narrative, and it is her characters—who simi-
larly love New York—who bring it to vivid
and memorable life. —Michael Cart
The Indigo Girl.
By Natasha Boyd.
Oct. 2017. 350p. Blackstone, $26.99 (9781455137114).
Based on a true story, The Indigo Girl is an
outstanding example of historical fiction. In
1739, 16-year-old Eliza Lucas is left in charge
of her family’s South Carolina plantations
when her father must return abroad. Facing
societal pressures and the strict gender roles of
colonial times, Eliza tries to live up to expectations while still holding true to herself. She is
a unique girl, who speaks her mind and constantly educates herself. Beyond these qualities,
Eliza defied the law to teach
her family’s slaves to read. A
young visionary, Eliza resolves
to grow indigo: a rare and
lucrative crop that she hopes
will save her family from
debt, if only its unusual growing process can be replicated.
Difficulties arise, however, as
Eliza deals with her ailing mother’s pressure to
marry and the unexpected return of her childhood love, who happens to now also be her
slave. Through Eliza’s strong internal voice and
excerpts from actual letters, Boyd effortlessly
brings this character to life. Readers will love
discovering the amazing story of a virtually unknown girl who changed the course of history.
YA: Eliza’s defiance of the expectations
and societal pressures of her era might
resonate with teen readers, especially
those studying the history of the southern
The It Girls.
By Karen Harper.
Oct. 2017. 384p. Morrow, paper, $14.99
Lucy and Elinor Sutherland hadn’t always
been the talk of the town. Growing up in
poverty on the Isle of Jersey in the 1870s, the
sisters find that a chance meeting with socialite
Lillie Langtry spurs them on to find their own
place in London’s high society. As a designer,
Lucy became known for her risqué dresses,
luxurious fabrics, and clever mannequin dis-
plays. Elinor, always more comfortable with
a pen and paper nearby, spun her stories into
novels and screenplays that made Hollywood
sit up and take notice. Mixing with artists, ac-
tors, and no shortage of potential beaus makes
for plenty of drama between the sisters, but
their familial bond never wavers. In today’s poisonedpenpress.com
“An unforgettable read.
with a compelling
mystery and whirling
dervish of a heroine
who combines all the
best traits of Elizabeth
Peabody and Kerry
Fisher, this wily, witty
escapades will have