Tag Archives: Sports

King for a Day by Rukhsana Khan, illustrated by Christiane Krömer

King for a DayWith the arrival of the spring festival in Lahore, Pakistan, no one is more excited than Malik who is ready for the upcoming kite-flying battles armed with Falcon. “‘How can you be king of Basant with only one kite?'” his sister teases. “‘Insha Allah, it will be fast enough,'” he happily insists.

Directing from his wheelchair on the family’s rooftop, Malik sends his brother “downwind so he can catch the kites I will set free.” His sister remains nearby, carefully following his instructions. Together, the children take on the bully next door, whose hurtful words and powerful kites are no match for Falcon. Once he’s defeated the enemy, Falcon continues to pluck kite after kite from the sky: “When they land, they’ll belong to whoever finds them. But at least they will have tasted freedom.”

Malik is not only king of Basant for his aerial prowess, but even more so for his earthbound kindness as he manages – anonymously! – to stop the tears of a little girl who becomes the bully’s next victim. Joyfully, he’s already planning for next year: “And tomorrow I will start designing a new kite … for next Basant when, Insha Allah, I will be king again.” By highlighting Malik’s many other strengths and talents, author Rukhsana Khan seamlessly presents a hero who is much more than his physical challenges: His patience and skill prove stronger than any bully’s cruelty and greed.

Christiane Krömer, who “specializes in illustrating stories that feature cultures from around the world,” uses multi-layered, mixed-media collages to enhance Khan’s caring story: unexpected combinations of delicate embroidery and rougher textures add depth, carefully placed architectural specifics ground the narrative, while the depiction of a teeny-tiny black cat who is the sole witness to Malik’s secret thoughtfulness turns out to be the perfect ‘show-don’t-tell’ detail.

In the endnote “About Basant,” Canada-based Khan gives a cultural and historical overview of Basant in her birthcountry of Pakistan. She explains in the final paragraph how “kite flying and the celebration of Basant in Lahore were banned for safety reasons and for security concerns due to orthodox religious opposition.” According to a recent Pakistani media article, “Hundreds have died in Basant related accidents in the past decade”! Khan mentions that 2013 was supposed to bring a return of Basant to Lahore, but activities remained cancelled until this year. At least in Lahore, Basant officially returns February 21 until March 5, 2014. Here’s to the promise to lofty adventures ahead!

Click here to see Khan’s other titles on BookDragon.

Readers: Children

Published: 2013

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Filed under ..Children/Picture Books, .Fiction, Canadian Asian Pacific American, Pakistani, Pakistani American, South Asian American

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell

David and GoliathMalcolm and I started out great here. We usually do. He’s judgmental, opinionated, smart, questioning, and downright entertaining. Outliers remains my all-time Gladwell favorite, then Blinkthen Tipping Point. I thought he faltered a bit in his last title, What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures, but those contents weren’t new; that is, the book included 19 “favorites” among the “countless articles” he’s written for The New Yorker since 1996. This one seems all new (no notes on the copyright page that make reference to earlier publication of any of its parts). So I began with excited anticipation … and, well, things didn’t end so well this time.

Stuck in the ears (because Gladwell thus far always does his own perfect reading) and on the run, I nodded along to his explanations as to why Goliath was doomed, what with his acromegaly, diplopia, and lumbering inability to react to fleet-footed, clever, healthy David. I got that would be the general gist throughout: never underestimate the underdog because s/he will find ways to take that perfect shot.

So I played along with the odds-defying Silicon Valley tween girls’ daddy-basketball coach who himself had never played the game. I listened carefully as Gladwell revealed the surprising disadvantages of small class sizes (including a snarky diss at the exclusive boarding school Hotchkiss), where some of his reasoning started to falter. But when he insisted that a Brown student who ‘failed’ her first class ever (a B-!!) – a notoriously difficult rite-of-passage-chemistry requirement – would still be a scientist if she had gone to her backup state school instead of competing with the crème de la crème at an exclusive Ivy, my eyeballs indeed began to roll so far into my head, I reached my own tipping point, tripping over my own feet on the gnarly trails.

By the time I got halfway through, I was doing killer hill repeats … and trying to summarize what I was hearing with every agonizing four-minute repeating climb: unless you’re poor, abused, dyslexic, with at least one dead parent, you ain’t ever gonna amount to anything – and no one who survived one or all of those categories to become massively successful would ever wish those challenges on their own kids. Call it oxygen deprivation, but I quickly ran out of energy to argue and just kept going.

Divided into three parts that decrease in convincing efficacy, David and Goliath is not exactly the expected Gladwell triumph. But once you start, I imagine you’ll read to the very end, and retain certain clauses and concepts. His “Theory of Desirable Difficulty” explains how dyslexics and children missing at least one parent have compensated to become some of the most powerful people in the world – from Richard Branson (dyslexic) to 12 of the 44 U.S. presidents (including Obama) who lost a parent as children. He compares and contrasts the trauma induced by “near misses” with the courageous invulnerability inspired by “remote misses.” He explains how the “inverted U-curve” damned California’s “three strikes” laws to eventual failure. And if you’re googling around, you’ll see he found plenty of detractors over his revisionist (documented) presentation of one of the most famous civil rights images from Birmingham.

Bottom line? At his best, Gladwell makes you think; at his not-so-best, he makes you think harder. That’s it then: I’m doomed to be a Gladwell-groupie for life.

Readers: Adult

Published: 2013

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The Longshot by Katie Kitamura

LongshotAlong the lines of Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running and Neal Bascomb’s The Perfect Mile being running books, or Chris Cleave’s Gold a biking title, or Thien Pham’s Sumo and Gail Tsukiyama’s The Street of a Thousand Blossoms sumo wrestling books, Katie Kitamura‘s debut is a boxing novel – or mixed martial arts, to be more exact. As she was named one of the five finalists for the The New York Public Library’s 2010 Young Lions Fiction Award for The Longshot (she was again thusly honored as a finalist in 2013 for her latest, Gone to the Forest), clearly her spare title is so much more than about throwing a good punch.

The Longshot examines the 10-year relationship between two men – a fighter and his coach – as they prepare for an MMA re-match that will forever change their futures, both individually and together. The men arrive in Tijuana, Mexico, to check into a $46/night motel three days before Cal will once more face Rivera, to whom he lost a fateful match four years ago. Rivera remains undefeated. By Riley’s estimation, Cal’s looking “‘the best I’ve seen you in a long time,'” as both men duly ready themselves for what’s to come.

Clocking in at less than 200 pages (or just under five hours as resonantly, intensely read by the fabulous Mark Bramhall), the novel’s brevity might initially seem misleading. But just as fighters must make every punch count, Kitamura writes with honed efficacy as she creates three portentous days, especially dense with psychological detail that move swiftly through to the final bell.

For Kitamura, writing Longshot was a family affair. She reveals in an interview on her publisher’s website (which you should only read after the novel, in order to avoid spoilers), that when she decided “to write something about fighting … [her] brother was a great guide to the sport.” Research was conducted à deux: “We’ve been to fights around the world together, watched and rewatched our favorite fights, endlessly debated the strengths and weaknesses of individual fighters,” she reveals. “We’re pretty extravagantly different; while I was studying for a Ph.D. in American literature he was busy establishing himself as one of the top tattoo artists in the world. But fighting is something we’re both completely passionate about.” When Kitamura finished her book, her brother celebrated with – what else? – a tattoo: “He’s now had the word LONGSHOT tattooed on his knuckles, and that’s the cover image for the book.” Sibling support doesn’t get much more graphic than that!

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2009

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Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron

Even before Naomi Benaron‘s debut novel hit shelves last year, it earned a substantial literary gold sticker as the winner of the biennial 2010 Bellwether Prize – the largest monetary award for unpublished fiction in North America, which was rebranded in 2011 as the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. But before you begin Running, might I suggest you read Benaron’s “Fiction and Social Responsibility: Where Do They Intersect?” (her mother’s story of ripping off the Nazi flag from a German ambassador’s car in Switzerland is especially memorable); her careful, thoughtful essay provides enriching context as to why and how Benaron writes what she does.

Through fiction, Benaron humanizes the inconceivable numbers of the Rwandan genocide into individual lives. Using carefully researched historical, cultural, political details, she introduces a young Tutsi, Jean Patrick Nkuba, and follows him from his Rwandan boyhood when he loses his father and goes with his mother and brother to live with his uncle, to his adulthood on the other side of the world as he tries to make sense of all that he has managed to miraculously survive.

Jean Patrick is a gifted runner with Olympic potential. His nationally-lauded talent temporarily protects him when tensions between the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups begin to escalate. But by 1994 when the Tutsi slaughter by their Hutu neighbors erupts and an estimated half-million to a million Rwandans are massacred over 100 days, Jean Patrick will have to run for his life … and keep running. In one of the world’s most horrific man-made tragedies, Jean Patrick’s beliefs of what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong,’ ‘truth’ and ‘lies,’ or ‘good’ and ‘evil’ no longer apply; all that he knows of his compassionate father, his courageous brother, the local bully, his beloved sweetheart, his devoted coach, and so many others, will be tested again and again and again.

A self-described social activist and fiction writer, Benaron is also a marathoner and Ironman triathlete: “My best lines come to me when I am in motion,” her website bio reveals. How fitting, then, that I took Running with me on multiple runs (it’s 14+ hours stuck in the ears), with inspiring pacing provided by narrator Marcel Davis. While I’m not quite sure about Davis’ Rwandan accent – which he seems to use or not use at his own will, as opposed to remaining constant according to the characters – Benaron’s story will keep you listening, even long after your legs have been thoroughly exhausted.

Readers: Adult

Published: 2012

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Kenta and the Big Wave by Ruth Ohi

Kenta and the Big Wave“When Kenta heard the warning siren, he ran to school … far up the hill, where the waves couldn’t reach.” He watches his soccer ball roll away, but thankfully finds his parents in the gym. When the ocean finally “fell back to where it belonged,” the devastation proves shocking: “‘Everything … gone,'” Kenta’s mother says, echoing the thoughts of everyone around them. Kenta manages to fashion a new ball out of scraps, but “[n]ot all things could be fixed so easily.”

Meanwhile, on the shores of the powerful ocean on the other side of the world, Kenta’s ball rolls up on a faraway beach. “[T]he boy could not understand Kenta’s writing,” but he resourcefully finds someone who can. With the help of a librarian, the boy is able to send Kenta’s ball back home.

Veteran Canadian author/illustrator Ruth Ohi explains in her ending “Author’s Note” that Kenta is “based on the true stories reported in the news following the [Tōhoku, Japan] tsunami of 2011, about objects (some as large as motorcycles!) being swept away in the storm’s waves and washing up on the shore all the way on the other side of the world.” Another Ruth – Ozeki – published an engrossing adult novel earlier this year, A Tale for the Time Being, also about what the waves washed up, bridging unlikely connections across thousands of miles. Both Ruths’ titles are important, necessary reminders that in spite of tragedies of such unfathomable magnitude, the world turns out to be not so vast, and the smallest shared moments can bind unknown individuals together in the most compassionate, tender ways.

One minor quibble: the single character visible on the ball is only the first kanji of Kenta’s name – 健 (meaning ‘healthy,’ ‘strong’) – and written a bit too widely spaced to be fully accurate. The -ta (太, meaning ‘large,’ ‘big’) is never visible, making the name always incomplete. I can’t figure out if this was an inexplicable stylistic choice or an actual error. That said, one tiny flaw can’t spoil this whole hopeful story. The more important message of connection and caring  – a young man carrying an elderly woman on his back as the wind gains greater force, survivors huddling to comfort one another in the colossal wreckage, children somehow finding the ability to laugh and play even in tragedy – rings loudly throughout Ohi’s soft, gentle illustrations on every page.

Readers: Children

Published: 2013

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Sumo by Thien Pham

SumoLast seen on bookshelves sharing cover credit with National Book Award-finalist Gene Luen Yang on Yang’s latest, Level Up, Thien Pham makes his solo debut with this slim heartbreaking-to-heart-recovering tale across continents and cultures.

“What am I doing here,” Scott wonders as he wakes to another day of strenuous training with mostly-naked behemoth men following the absolute orders of a tiny-in-comparison UCLA-sweatshirt-wearing master. Welcome to the world of sumo somewhere in Japan. After being dumped by his longtime girlfriend when his NFL career didn’t happen, Scott made a radical decision to move to the other side of the world and reinvent himself.

Now in his new life, he’s passing out regularly and tired of doing the dishes. He can cook a mean pot of nabe, the food of choice for his fellow wrestlers, although he only seems to get the leftovers. His one new friend is the master’s daughter, whose UCLA education explains both her English and her father’s sweatshirts: “Where I come from UCLA sweatshirts are like FUBU for Asians,” Scott explains to a speechless Asami. [I had to look up that acronym, and I can’t give you the translation here because I’m not allowed to use that sort of language in print, tsk tsk (but hee hee ho ho!).]

With his recently dyed-to-black hair (and his new Japanese name, Hakugei), Asami notices Scott is looking more like a rikishi, a professional sumo. But he’s got to prove himself and get to the next level. The most important tournament of his career is on … “You better decide now if you want this,” his master warns, “because … if you don’t … you should leave now.”

Pham creates a simple, resonating, colorful palette for Scott’s life – a rich earthy brown for sumo, a distant shadowy periwinkle for his past, a welcoming slightly minty green for the present – which all ultimately comes together on the final pages, a collage of potential and promise.

Oh, and that final page handprint with the two kanji characters? That’s Hakugei, Scott’s new moniker … literally ‘white whale.’ Hmmm … I’m just translating here …

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2012

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The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less than Four Minutes to Achieve It by Neal Bascomb

Neal Bascomb is a consummate storyteller: he can unravel a tale with an ending you already know, set it at a heart-thumping pace, and never let you rest until you hit that final page. Unless you’ve been in total seclusion your entire life, you probably know that the four-minute mile barrier was broken quite a few decades ago. [I’ll save you a Google search: as of today, the world record of 3:43.13 (OMG!) by Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj remains unchallenged since 1999.]

Just how that four-minute barrier was finally overcome gets breathtaking (bestselling!) treatment from Bascomb on the page; and in case you were wondering, the stuck-in-the-ears version incites even more excitement as read by Nelson Runger, who adds a welcome, old-time sportscaster enthusiasm to his narration. [One of my biggest gripes with audible books has been the laziness of producers with casting/directing for proper pronunciation. Why is basic respect for the author’s words so much to ask for??!! Here’s shocking (pathetic that it is so shocking!) news about thisproduction: Both Bascomb and one of the book’s major subjects get a shout-out of “grateful acknowledgement” for their help in “researching certain pronunciations in this book”!! Really, how hard was that??!!]

But back to the pursuit of perfection … Mile by mile, race by race, Bascomb follows three young athletes around the world as each devotes himself to be the first to achieve the deemed-impossible sub-4:00 goal: British Roger Bannister, an Oxford-educated medical doctor-in-training; Australian John Landy, a Melbourne University track hero; and American Wes Santee, who had to battle his critical father for the chance to run (and be educated!). Their backgrounds are vastly different, their training plans at times antithetical to proven regimens, their lifestyles bear little resemblance to each other … and yet their shared goal never wavers, and ultimately, one man breaks that elusive tape.

I knew how it would end, and yet I often couldn’t pull the earphones off my head: “shhh, he’s on the fourth lap,” I’d admonish the hubby, or “just a sec, he’s about to break another record,” I’d tell a whining child, or “we’ll talk in a minute, they’re gonna announce the official time,” I’d hang up the cell call as it interrupted my iPod function. With Bascomb’s addictive step-by-step retelling, knowing the ending never diminished the wanting to know happened next.

Confession time: I’m not delusional enough to ever think I’ll ever come close to run the perfect mile, but thanks to someone Bascomb and I know in common, I’m out there running a bunch of my own (albeit much slower!) perfect miles – yesterday morning, the exact time I had visualized actually flashed up on the board as I crossed the finish line of a local race. Not that I’m bragging (well … only a little bit), but my miracle-making coach has managed to make me an ultra-athlete (yeah, me!). So here’s the best sneak-peek news for ultra-wannabes: come next spring, the wisdom of that impossible coaching will be available to anyone and everyone when my ultimate ultracoach’s first book hits shelves next spring. Watch this space for details.

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2004

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The Street of a Thousand Blossoms by Gail Tsukiyama

For one reason or another, I’ve taken many years to finally finish a Gail Tsukiyama novel. I’ve started a few, gotten distracted and put each aside, but this time, after noticing that she was one of the few APA authors at this year’s National Book Festival (she was also featured in the fest’s debut in 2001), I chose the audible route to push myself to the end. Of her many novels, I settled on Street mainly because the narrator is actor/comedian Stephen Park whose on-film work I’ve admired through the years.

Please allow me a quick rant: audio producers should have figured out by now that we don’t all look alike, which means we don’t all speak alike, either. Hiring Park, who is Korean American, because of his ethnic Asian face does not mean that he’ll have some linguistic magic wand that enables him to speak fluent Japanese. No, really. This is a fact. Listening to Park constantly stumble with Japanese mispronunciations shows lazy casting, as well as embarrassingly irresponsible hiring for not even providing minimal language guidance. Not all Korean American actors are like James Kyson Lee who actually speaks Japanese. I have to wonder with grave concern (and not a little disgust) if producers really do think we’re interchangeable this way.

But back to Street. Two brothers, Hiroshi and Kenji, are orphaned as young children, and raised with by loving, nurturing, supportive grandparents. Japanese expansion into China and other parts of Asia has been well underway, but war does not begin to encroach into Tokyo until years later. In 1939 Tokyo, 11-year-old Hiroshi dreams of being a sumo wrestler while Kenji, age 9, finds a renowned Noh mask maker who welcomes the young boy as his apprentice.

War looms – food becomes scarce, civilians suffer at the whims of the kempeitai (military police), violence is virtually unavoidable – then bombs and fires rain down death and destruction. Shocked to hear the emperor’s very human voice for the first time in history, the nation struggles towards recovery. Life continues: Hiroshi fulfills his sumo dreams, and marries the frail, damaged younger daughter of the sumo master with whom he trains; Kenji finishes an architecture degree at prestigious Tokyo University, but returns to his love of the Noh mask and establishes himself as an unrivaled maker. Encompassing more than a quarter century, the brothers bear witness to one of the most rapidly changing periods of Japanese history, from pre-war traditions, to the paralysis of defeat and subsequent U.S. occupation, to rapid economic growth through the 1960s.

At best, Tsukiyama’s sixth novel is a solid, historical family saga. At worst, her writing tends toward pedestrian, occasionally dragging with unnecessary plodding details, other times rushing over years as if she, too, is anxious to finish the 400+ (hardcover) pages or almost 15 hours stuck in the ears. Too many of her characters prove narrow, near-saintly in their unwavering goodness, especially the brothers’ grandparents, Hiroshi’s widowed master, and Kenji’s gay mentor. That said, given Tsukiyama’s growing shelf of titles that continue to garner awards, her loyal readers clearly appreciate the reliable, albeit predictable, storytelling – uncomplicated, straight-forward … dare I say … comfortable.

Readers: Adult

Published: 2008

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Kids of Kabul: Living Bravely through a Never-Ending War by Deborah Ellis

Mega-award-winning author Deborah Ellis‘s active interest in Afghanistan began in 1996 when she heard about the Taliban takeover of that country “and the crimes they perpetrated against women and girls.” She became involved with the Afghan communities in her native Canada, then traveled to meet Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Russia, and most recently returned to Kabul just last year. In a land ravaged by decades of neverending war, “[t]he real losers are the Afghan people, especially the women and children.”

By giving voice to the Afghan community in numerous books – Women of the Afghan War for adults, and the ever-popular middle grade/young adult Breadwinner Trilogy (The BreadwinnerParvana’s Journey, and Mud City) – Ellis has single-handedly raised over a million dollars in book royalties for Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan and Street Kid International. Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan benefits again with all royalties from Kids in Kabul, Ellis’ latest title. [Take note: be patient a little longer … that memorable Breadwinner trilogy is about to grow, with a brand new sequel, My Name Is Parvana, hitting U.S. shelves next month!]

Post-9/11, Afghanistan remains a war zone; even after the Taliban government was officially ousted, the Afghan people have not had peace for the past 11 years. “The billions and billions spent on the war, which might have been spent on education, health care, housing and rebuilding a civil society, have been spent on weapons,” Ellis soberly writes in her “Introduction.” Although more than half of Afghan children don’t have access to education, they’re making every effort to better their lives, as best as they can amidst violence, corruption, repression, and worse. Ellis traveled for a week in Kabul (because of security reasons, she couldn’t move beyond the dangerous capital) in early 2011 to talk to children.

The 27  girls and boys included here range from ages 11 to 17, most with photographs revealing their thoughtful young faces (which, I admit, makes me worry about their safety now that they are so easily identifiable). Each of their stories is introduced with relevant, contextual, cultural details from Ellis’ sharp observations. Most of the children are fatherless, many are orphans. Some are going to school, some will never have the chance. All have survived horrors no child should, including watching loved ones murdered, the brutality of child marriage, loss of home, safety, basic rights, even limbs.

“I want to be a doctor, of course. This the dream of many Afghans because we have seen so much death and suffering,” says 16-year-old Aman.

“At school I have learned that there are better ways to do things than all this war, war, war all the time. It’s the younger generation that will change that. My generation. Me,” says Mustala, 13.

“Sometimes we play on the big field at the stadium, the same stadium the Taliban used for all the terrible things they did – the shootings, cutting of people’s hands, the executions and torture. When we play there … it is like getting some justice for all those women who were hurt. We play for them as much as ourselves,” says 16-year-old Palwasha.

“I am happiest when I am in this library. All of our problems can be solved with these books,” says Sigrullah, 14.

Against challenging, sometime inhumane conditions, these children manage to thrive: “It is good to be hopeful,” Ellis reminds, “and if the future could be in the hands of this generation of young people, with their eagerness, openness and determination, then Afghanistan could indeed be a garden again.”

Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2012

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Filed under ..Adult Readers, ..Middle Grade Readers, ..Young Adult Readers, .Nonfiction, Afghan, Canadian

Gold by Chris Cleave

Exactly two weeks have passed since the London 2012 closing ceremony; still feeling Olympic withdrawal? Might I suggest a literary antidote: Chris Cleave‘s latest novel, made even more timely as the Olympic sport of choice here is cycling (albeit indoors). Road cyclist Bradley Wiggins emerged as London 2012’s bell-ringing local hero, and made sports history by becoming the first athlete to win the Tour de France and Olympic Gold in the same year.

Cleave has an eerie knack for timing. Gold cycled onto shelves just before London 2012 – intentionally so, I’m sure. Not so purposeful was the pub date for his debut, Incendiary, about a London bombing (!), which somehow landed on July 7, 2005 – the very morning four suicide bombers hit the London Underground and a London bus, killing more than 50 people. So much was made about the book’s timing that Cleave will “no longer comment” on the subject. Surreal, no?

But back to Gold. Cleave’s third novel is essentially a story of how the love for/dedication to/obsession with cycling creates a family of five seemingly misfits. Sweet Kate and angry Zoe meet as competitors at age 19, both hoping for a spot on the U.K. national track cycling team. Kate eventually marries fellow cyclist Jack, though not without a scuffle or two and more. All three are coached by gruff-but-supportive Tom, who has never recovered from losing his own chance at an Olympic medal decades ago by just one-tenth of a second. While Zoe and Kate bond and battle each other on the track and off, Kate and Tom’s wise-beyond-her-years daughter Sophie will fight for her life twice over battling leukemia, all the while trying not to disrupt her parents’ competitive lives.

British actress Emilia Fox expertly narrates Cleave’s prose with a sense of controlled desperation as both Kate and Zoe, now 32, must go head-to-head against each other one last time for a spot on the London 2012 team. Fox’s reading aptly captures Kate’s self-sacrificing, forgiving nature so at odds with how much she wants this final chance at victory, and is equally adept at giving voice to Zoe’s detached, hardened, but about-to-break-down, no-longer-protective shell.

And yet … by book’s end, Fox’s performance ultimately scores higher than Cleave’s novel. Cleave reveals his saga in time-traveling pieces scattered over the past decades, divulging a lost sibling, a cheating mother, a difficult but proud father, a secret kept too long … but the details are often too obvious and the revelations hardly surprising. Kate and Zoe, such opposites, too quickly devolve into bland stereotypes of predictably ‘good’ and ‘bad.’ Being still in a bit of Olympic mood, if I were handing out medals, Little Bee would garner gold, Incendiary silver, but alas, like Cleave’s character Tom, Gold just might miss medaling by more than a tenth of a page.

Tidbit: Chris Cleave is heading across the Pond for events across the country from October 1-15. Here’s his U.S. tour schedule.

Readers: Adult

Published: 2012

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