Stephen Harrigan shows us a different side of Abraham Lincoln told through a fictional friend of his so we may get a glimpse of the younger "country bumpkin" man who will become one of this country's most legendary figures. Cage meets Abraham Lincoln on the battlefield and the two strike up an easy friendship. Cage is a poet and he and Lincoln are kindred souls. Harrigan showcases Lincoln's dichotomy - his ease with people making jokes to disarm his would be foes and his complete unease with women as he courts Mary while pining away for another he doesn't have a chance of winning. This is a very different view of Lincoln, one that tackles his inability to take a stand for or against slavery, his sometimes unpopular view of ethics and the law and how he and his friends play the same political games still in existence today and it is in sharp contrast to the typical view of the stoic defender of the Union and savior of slavery.
If nothing else you will chuckle at Lincoln telling any number of dirty jokes - not something you would think this heroic figure would have ever done yet Stephen Harrigan makes us believe that this was an every day occurrence and totally in character.
Keita is a very fast long distance runner in an African country known for their runners. It is the only way out of the absolute poverty and corruption of his country so he seizes a chance and signs up with a less than reputable manager to get out. But instead of staying with the race circuit he takes off and begins to run as an illegal. Changing his name and staying one step ahead of the manager who is out to get him back is a challenge enough but soon Keita learns that his little sister has been kidnapped. With the help of a wheelchair bound journalist, a young videographer and others, he may have a chance. He is in the race of his life in a foreign land. I loved the quiet voice of Keita amidst all the chaos around him. He is true to himself and always wants to give back to those who have helped him.
Two young people misunderstood by their families are bullied at their private school. One is an inventor and someday his inventions will work, the other believes herself a witch and is able to converse with animals. Fast forward years later and they are back in each others lives but he is trying to take out the world and she is trying to preserve it with magic. A little fantasy and a little reality, one could make the case for this is what happens when we bully smart, socially awkward kids. Reminiscent of "The Magicians" with secret clubs, magic and the threat of what is to come. The copy is a bit choppy but the relationship between the two is wondrous.
To call this book sweet would seem strange to many after reading it but there are moments of sweetness that fight their way to the surface of this brutal story of survival in the Civil War South. Callum has fallen in with the wrong people who are taking advantage of the war beaten survivors. Among those poor victims is Ava, who is living alone and an easy target. Callum rescues her and they run off taking with them a prize horse. Trying to survive on the road during the war is anything but easy and Ava is pregnant as well but the two manage to forage and stay safe. Their pursuers are hot on their trail but they still manage to find good people who help them. Brutal but balanced, theirs is a relationship born in desperation forged in love.
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