Commentary
5:00 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Complex Worlds and Complex Families

In her novel The Land of Love and Drowning, Tiphanie Yanique takes us to the Virgin Islands in the early 1900s, as rule is transferred from Denmark to the United States.

Two sisters, Eona and Annette, and a brother they don’t know they have, all possess a particular beauty and sensuality. Orphaned after a shipwreck and stripped of their social status, the siblings traverse the next 60 years on the beloved island that is bound by the sea that killed their father.

Yanique, a native of St. Thomas, creates a multifaceted world you won’t soon forget.

Rebecca Rotert’s debut novel, Last Night at the Blue Angel, is a quick read about found families and guardian angels. Set during the ‘50s and ‘60s in Kansas City and Chicago, Rotert evokes the landscape and culture of the Midwest.

Breaking from her oppressive small town to pursue her dream, Naomi Hill is on the verge, singing night after night at the problematic Blue Angel nightclub. As she struggles with men and with raising her 10-year-old daughter, Sophie, in a dressing room backstage, the mother-daughter relationship is tenuous at best. But finally, we cheer Naomi and Sophie and the friends who guide them along their disparate paths.

I thoroughly enjoyed this page-turner and its cast of vulnerable, intriguing characters.