Tuesday, June 23, 2015

NORA AND KETTLE by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

Nora and Kettle
by Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Expected Publication: February 29, 2016

If you haven’t read anything by Lauren Nicolle Taylor, you’re in for a real treat: Nora and Kettle is an upcoming novel by Lauren Nicolle Taylor, international bestselling author of The Woodlands. Set in the years after World War II, Nora and Kettle features a story about friendship and love between the daughter of a civil rights lawyer and a mixed-race Japanese-American orphan. 

The first few pages of Nora and Kettle whisked me away into the sheltered but troubled life of Nora, daughter of a prestigious civil rights attorney. Living in a large home with her affluent family, Nora has learned to hide her bruises and stay quiet, mostly for the sake of keeping her little sister safe from their violent father. 

The story soon shifts to the perspective of Kettle, a young man who goes out of his way to make life livable for his family, a group of Nisei orphans (“Lost Children”) who were taken from orphanages and placed into internment camps. 

What do Nora and Kettle have in common? They are protective of those they love, and would sacrifice much to make sure that their loved ones are safe. Nora bravely endures her father’s beatings to make sure her sister is safe, while Kettle fights to work risky jobs in the mines in order to feed his family of fellow homeless children. On the surface, they live very different lives, but they also have a lot in common. 

The story flows seamlessly between the perspectives of Nora and Kettle. I found myself attempting to piece together different facts and details to get a hold of the big picture or the “real deal” of a character.The revelations are satisfying and add layers of complexity to characters and their motivations. Hints introduced throughout the book come together to reveal important discoveries later on in the story--wish I could say but it’d be too spoilery. Take my word on this!
A sketch of Nora and Kettle, by Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Nora and Kettle left me reeling with emotions--happy ones, angry ones, and also sad ones. I dreamed along with Nora, simmered with anger at her father’s violence and hypocrisy, and cheered for both Nora and Kettle. I found myself identifying with both characters’ struggles, dreams, and fears. 

The emotional impact of this novel also stems from Lauren Nicolle Taylor’s signature style of poetic prose. Her vivid writing sweeps me away into the secret realms of her characters’ minds and hearts, where they are free to express how they truly feel. This is especially true for Nora, whose innerworld is dreamy and mobile compared to her oppressive situation at home, where she has to hide her true thoughts from her overbearing father. 
"A Frankie and Kettle Moment" by Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Overall, this is a poetically written novel about two strong-willed characters who will do whatever they can to ensure the safety of the people they love. The post-World War II setting and Kettle’s background illuminates a segment of history that is often overlooked: the removal of children from orphanages and their subsequent placement into internment camps for having any sort of Japanese ancestry. Nora and Kettle are likable characters who drive the plot forward and I find myself investing deeply in their struggles. Nora and Kettle is an exhilarating read and I highly recommend it.

Expected Publication Date for Nora and Kettle: February 26, 2016

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