By Rilla Askew
Novelist and short story writer Rilla Askew's first novel, The Mercy Seat (1997), was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Dublin IMPAC Prize, while her second, Fire in Beulah (2001), won the American Book Award. She has published five novels in all.
THE STORY: The residents of Cedar, Oklahoma, are shocked when revered community leader Bob Brown and his friend, Pastor Jesus Garcia, are arrested for harboring 14 illegal immigrants in Bob's barn. That's considered a felony in the small Midwestern town. Meanwhile, Bob's daughter, "Sweet" Georgia (Brown) Kirkendall is at her wit's end. In addition to Bob's legal troubles, her husband, a pipeline worker, is frequently away from home; her son is a bully; her frail father-in-law needs round-the-clock care; and her sensitive, young nephew Dustin has just moved in. As the townsfolk begin to take sides in Bob's case, Dustin suddenly disappears, and "Sweet" must learn to stand up for herself if she is to hold her family together.
Ecco. 432 pages. $25.99. ISBN: 9780062198792
Minneapolis Star Tribune ****
"Askew's strength as a novelist is just this; through an accretion of believable detail and judgment-free descriptions, she creates characters in whose fate you can't help but become invested. You may start this book out as a 'relationship' novel, but soon you will realize you are up late because you are, in fact, reading a thriller." EMILY CARTER
San Francisco Chronicle ****
"Tensions in the town escalate, and as these good people of Cedar make bad decisions, Kind of Kin takes on a wider canvas, exploring politics, the media, religion and the family ties that bind as well as garrote. ... Kind of Kin, in the end, is about how we are all connected and how we might transcend barriers of race and fear." CAROLINE LEAVITT
Denver Post ****
"Askew's novel delivers the unexpected. ... Though the author is clearly more sympathetic to one side of the debate, she makes her points using...