Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Mini-reviews: The Arm of the Starfish and The Legacy of Lost Things

Adam Eddington is a hopeful marine scientist who nabs an incredible internship. He will be working with the esteemed Dr. Calvin O'Keefe on his starfish research in beautiful Portugal. But Adam hasn't even embarked on his plane before things get weird. A beautiful young woman approaches him in the airport and warns him that all is not as it seems with the O'Keefe family. He will have to decide if his allegiances lie with Dr. O'Keefe and his warm and inviting family or the intriguing Kali and all the wealth and power that she can offer.

I love reading L'Engle's books and seeing how characters from one book interact with new characters in other books. Adam gives us an outsider's look into the O'Keefe family, whose parents are the beloved Meg and Calvin from A Wrinkle In Time. This story starts off fast and doesn't let go until the end, as Adam debates ethics and who he can trust. The Arm of the Starfish is perfect for the adult looking for a quick but satisfying read or the teen who realizes that declaring your allegiance to someone or something isn't always as simple as it seems.

The Arm of the Starfish
By Madeline L'Engle
Square Fish June 2011
272 pages
From my shelves

The Legacy of Lost Things follows an Armenian family as they struggle to find their place in America. Levon feels greater allegiance to his mother and sister than to his wife and daughters, and his wife Tamar is still consumed by thoughts of her first love. Daughters Araxi and Sophie are witnesses to their angry and occasionally violent marriage, as well as the cultural constraints that still trap their family. Araxi finally has enough and runs away, leaving her parents to wonder what they could have done to make their daughter stay.

I enjoyed this book, especially the insight it gave me into a family struggling to maintain their culture in the midst of a very different one. I appreciated Zilelian's attention to the ways that the Armenian genocide continues to impact families. The perspective jumps from character to character with each chapter, which can take some getting used to (especially in the beginning when you are still working out how people are connected to each other). My only true qualm with this book were a few moments that  seemed much too heightened considering what had happened before, especially when it comes to Araxi.

These characters have lost their homes, their identities, and their connections to each other. Each one of them tries to stick it out, to follow tradition, to do the "right thing." But as Levon, Tamar, Araxi, and Sophie try to find happiness, they discover that it sometimes means breaking free of what they have always known and what is expected of them. This is a good debut and I will be interested to see what this author writes in the future.

The Legacy of Lost Things
By Aida Zilelian
B H Publications March 2015
224 pages
Read via Netgalley


  1. The Legacy of Lost Things sounds really good; I love books that give me glimpses into another culture. And I love A Wrinkle in Time...but had no idea L'Engle wrote this particular book. I'll have to look for it. :)

    1. It took me a while to get into The Legacy of Lost Things, but I found it so fascinating. I'm always on the lookout for books about living within two cultures because my dad does that so seamlessly!

  2. A Wrinkle in Time is one of my favorite books in the entire universe, but sadly, I haven't read much else by her.

    1. Me too! I would recommend the rest of that series first, so it's A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and Many Waters. I really love her adult books too (The Small Rain and A Severed Wasp), although they don't have that sci-fi thread.

  3. You have reminded me that I still have half of L'Engle's books to read, and I need to remedy that. She's one of my favourite authors and I haven't read any of her adult series!