HarperCollins

A Snowy Journey

Rene Denfeld’s writing is one of lyricism and comfortability. Her voice is that of your mother reading to you as you fall asleep. There is an ebb and flow to her style that is inspiring. The type of writing that when you start reading, you say, “Ah, this is what good writing sounds like.” Denfeld has mastered her voice and found interesting stories to tell.

There is much about this book that I appreciate in good storytelling. Naomi is complicated; she has an easy smile with an open demeanor, but is guarded about her past. Madison, aka Snow Girl, is young and naïve though quickly learns what it takes to survive when you are a “lost girl.” Her strongest tool is her imagination and she wields it like a master. One of the best ways to write a “villain” is to show not only their weaknesses, but also their reasoning or longing. Mr. B. has done a terrible thing but I sympathized after learning about his background.

Denfeld gave us the point of view of each of these characters. It helped to deepen the heart of the story. Naomi is literally the child finder. Obviously bad things are happening to these children before she finds them, but Denfeld doesn’t lead us on a faceless, rage filled witch hunt. There are tragic circumstances to understand behind some stories, and this story is built on a rock bed of tragedy.

Denfeld has given us a beautifully tragic tale and lightened it with a positive ending. I won’t say happy, because these characters have quite the journey ahead of them, but positive. And that is my biggest critique of the book. The continued journey of the characters sounds just as exciting as the beginning journey. The Child Finder is a slim novel that I would have loved to see more of. Maybe Denfeld will continue Naomi’s story as she continues her search for the most important child of all.

 

 

 

By Emily Coleman

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Field Nurse’s Horror

The Fire By Night by Teresa Messineo is a historical fiction book about World War ll. It’s an event authors continue to use as their back drop, probably because of the savagery of it, the horrors of the Holocaust that continue to peak our morbid curiosity. Teresa Messineo doesn’t focus on the Holocaust, doesn’t even bring it up. Instead she tells us the stories of the field nurses. The women who volunteered, were sent overseas with the troops and set up medical tents img_2424amongst the fighting to care for the soldiers as soon as they were wounded. The Fire By Night follows two friends after they’ve been dispatched to their separate posts and the horrors they faced.

Jo and Kay met in nursing school and when they enlist together, they are sent to opposite ends of the world. Jo spends most of this story in France. She was left behind in a makeshift medical tent, waiting for the convoy to bring them to the hospital that never comes back. Kay is among thousands of people in a Japanese POW camp in Manila. While Jo stays busy keeping her six patients alive with her dwindling supplies, Kay reminisces about Hawaii before Pearl Harbor and write to Jo, knowing these letters will never reach her. Both women survive but will battle their demons while trying to figure out how to live in civilization once again.

Teresa Messineo managed to turn prose into poetry. Everything on the page was eloquent and gut wrenching. Messineo dug deep into what these women were thinking, how they were feeling, what they did to survive. My one critique of the story is from the middle; while chapters alternated between Jo and Kay, they became repetitive. Both women would feel such dismay, they wanted to give up altogether, but something would happen right at the end of the chapter, they would remember why they couldn’t give up and their spirits would be lifted enough to make it through to the next day. This went on for several chapters until both women were recused from their respective prisons.

It’s always good to stretch out of your genre once in a while. I’ve always enjoyed the historical fiction I’ve rea, I just have to remind myself not to take it as truth. Teresa Messineo’s writing easily makes this book worth reading. I really did enjoy seeing World War ll from a nurse’s point of view. Jo and Kay were strong and vulnerable in all the right ways. With The Fire By Night being Messineo’s debut novel, I can’t imagine what will be next.

 

 

By Emily Coleman

Everyone Has a Dysfunctional Family

First of all, The Nest has a beautiful cover. It looks elegant and sophisticated and the writing didn’t disappoint. I was blown away. Not only by Sweeney’s writing style, but by her handling of characters and their understanding of the situations around them. There is a secret part of myself that loves small town gossip and Sweeney has an exquisite talent at baring the depths of the human condition.IMG_0431

The Nest closely follows 4 siblings as they
eagerly await the release of the funds stashed away by their deceased father. Each have their own agenda for the funds that exploded in the mutual investment stocks until the eldest sibling makes a grave mistake and their emotionally elusive mother sweeps in for damage control. The family implodes when they realize each sibling will receive a fraction of what they were expecting.

The Plump family are no more dysfunctional than most but it’s not often you are privy to the raw honesty Sweeney portrays. She delves deep, revealing each characters secrets, longings, and selfishness. Sweeney even explores the family’s friends and acquaintances. Not one character felt flat. I still think about them, wondering how Stephanie is doing, is Melody happy, where is Leo now? There are many characters that flit in and out of my head, but I feel like the Plump family will stay with me for a long time.