The New Moons Arms
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As hot flashes surge, Calamity's childhood ability to find lost items returns.
The New Moon's Arms - NALO HOPKINSON, AUTHOR
Long-forgotten toys fall from the sky. Her father's old cashew orchard appears in her front yard. And most surprising of all, a seaweed-encrusted and seemingly orphaned child washes up on Calamity's beach.
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Is Caribbean magic at work? Hammond delivers this enchanting story without a flaw. Her voice, with its soothing low pitch and rhythm, captures island accents and makes listening a pleasure. Things appear out of thin air when she has an unexpected hot flash and a tingling in her fingers. And not just little things, though it all begins with a long-lost brooch Calamity is a complex character.
She is prickly, hard to get along with, demanding, and very focused on herself. She is very unhappy with the thought of getting old and is fighting it with everything she's got. She is a sexual being, and she is powerful in her own right.
The New Moon's Arms by Nalo Hopkinson
She is a flawed, realistic individual who can be very loving with the rescued toddler, Agway, while spewing homophobic vitriol at Michael and his boyfriend. You never feel that Calamity is trying to win over the reader; she could care less what you might think of her, she'll follow her own instincts in all cases.
It makes for a fascinating reading experience, as Calamity reveals things that she doesn't seem to see as problematic about herself, like her intolerance or her extreme resistance to aging. There are many subplots and side characters in this novel, which is both its strength and its weakness. I loved some of the side stories, like the snippets at a seal house in the Zooquarium, or the mythological story of a slave ship and its connection to the sea people, and there just wasn't enough of those elements for me.
Also, a major mystery and developmental milestone for Calamity was the loss of her mother at age 12 or so -- it seems to be very important and yet that storyline kind of gets left behind in the conclusion of the book. Nevertheless, this was an intriguing novel that I really enjoyed. I felt that the rhythms and phrases that Calamity and her neighbours spoke with added to the sense of place.
While the presence of Agway and the sea people gave the tale its magical elements, they weren't the sole focus of the book. Instead they were woven in to Calamity's life story.
She was a strong protagonist, not necessarily a likeable one, but a powerful anchor for the story. Awards Nominated: Nebula, John W.
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Campbell Memorial, and Mythopoeic Awards. Calamity, born Chastity, has renamed herself in a way she feels is most fitting. She's a something grandmother whose mother disappeared when she was a teenager and whose father has just passed away as she begins menopause.
With this physical change of life comes a return of a special power for finding lost things, something she hasn't been able to do since childhood. A little tingling in the hands then a massive hot flash, and suddenly objects, even whole buildings, lost to her since childhood begin showing up around Calamity. One of the lost things Calamity recovers is a small boy who washes up on the shore outside her house after a rainstorm. She takes this bruised but cheerful 4-year-old under her wing and grows attached to him, a process that awakens all the old memories, frustrations and mysteries around her own mother and father.