Archive for March, 2009

Sea Change by Aimee Friedman

friedmanMiranda and her divorced mother go to Selkie Island to settle the estate of her recently deceased grandmother. Miranda, a student at the Bronx High School of Science, has two parents who are doctors and is, by her own admission, a science wonk. Yet, even before landing on the island, she is drawn into the world of the supernatural when the ferry boat captain tells her to beware of the mermans and mermaids that live there.

While investigating her grandmother’s antebellum house, Miranda comes upon an old book that tells her about the legends and lore of the island.  Her feet are barely wet when she meets, successively, two young hulks who pursue her: a debonair Southern charmer and a mysterious local boy who may or may not be a merman.

Friedman uses the chic-lit formula of presenting a smart, but socially innocent young woman who gets caught up in the first stages of romance. There is the requisite in-group of spoiled girls who spend most of their time fixating on make-up and clothes while chasing preppie young men. There is also a mysterious love affair from Miranda’s mother’s past. Pervading this is the mysterious Selkie Island itself, where fog and rip tides affect the summer visitors and the local residents at will. There are few surprises in this book, and the constant insertion of possible mythic aquatic creatures stretches the reader’s incredulity and makes pragmatic Miranda’s suspension of proof unreal.

Lillian Hecker (Pel)


March 25, 2009 at 6:04 pm Leave a comment

The Rock and The River


1968 was a year of turmoil. Protests against the Viet Nam war and for the enforcement of Civil Rights laws were punctuated by assassinations, violence and riots. Much of the conflict seemed to be generational – children in rebellion against their parents values and beliefs. In this setting, in Chicago, the two sons of civil rights activist and pacifist Roland Childs attempt to establish their own identities separate from their father. Older brother Stick secretly joins the Black Panther Party, whose community activism is a complex mix of service and militarism. Younger brother Sam is torn between what he discovers about his older brother’s activities and his father’s faith in non-violence. As his experiences with racism in Chicago grow more violent and the murder of Martin Luther King sparks riots, Sam wonders if his father’s path will ever result in any change at all. Yet he knows instinctively that his brother’s gun will carry a cost all its own.

This is an interesting and compelling look at the complex relationship between the hope and despair of the inner-cities in America in 1968, especially as represented by The Black Panther Party, from which emerged a new and strength and pride of heritage for African-Americans.   John S.  (WLS)

March 24, 2009 at 5:09 pm Leave a comment

March 2009
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