Sweet Hearts Hardcover – January 4, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Fans of Louise Erdrich's The Bingo Palace (Perennial, 1998) will take to Thon's world quickly. Flint Zimmer, 16, freshly broken out of a Montana juvenile-detention facility, goes to his mother's home long enough to collect his 10-year-old half-sister before the two resume the delinquent activities in which they engaged eight years earlier. Children of an often drunk woman who has enough Native American blood to be enrolled in a tribe, Flint and Cecile live in a world haunted by the bleak metaphorical history revisited in flashbacks to the deaths of Sitting Bull and Custer. Brief chapters trace the youths' crime spree, interspersed with equally brief sections that form a catechism of failed relationships between peoples and between persons. There is nothing noble in the present, except, perhaps, Cecile's long-gone father and her new stepfather. Thon's tone, however, claims a kind of dignity for Flint and Cecile, even in their most devastating and deadly forays. This book invites discussion and could prove suitable as a read-aloud with reluctant teen readers.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Sweet Hearts is a novel that will help each one who reads it enter deeply into the conversation between life and death, beauty and desolation. I was struck by the beauty of art, complex and far from facile discernments on the nature of God and people, and the honest doubt and excruciating faith required for the question of whether all things can or might be reconciled. I felt shattered, in that good way which makes us more humble and more generous, by the way Melanie Rae Thon gives us as readers such love for all people, by taking us into the generations, and bringing us back up to the present through a healing hand, even of the most desolate histories. This subtle nearly unconscious healing happens by singular moments of life, love, choice, dignity, and transfer of self into a greater wholeness found page after page in this modern masterpiece. As an artist, I believe Melanie Rae Thon is among the world's finest, and the result, in poetry, in prose is that the reader experiences an anvil of healing, sometimes uncomfortable, often very fraught, through which the spark of challenge passes, taking us to places we've only slightly envisioned but were not sure existed until we arrived at a place of peace. Melanie Rae Thon and Toni Morrison (in her novel Home) have given the world something so rare and so elegant and so very compelling... they have reconciled even our most abandoned, desolated, traumatized, and often sinister selves with that which reconciles all: love.
I've read most but not all of Thon's work, and with each new experience, my sense of people is renewed and given shape in a way that reminds me of golden eagles, soaring the drafts across the divide over Montana.
After finishing the novel, I've spent so much time struck by utmost appreciation and wonder, I am grateful for Melanie Rae Thon. Her deeply intelligent work, and the richness of a subtle and profound healing motif that runs through each life.
This book was one of the most depressing books I've read in a long time. I knew what the book was about going into it, but wow, every single chapter of this book was just horribly depressing.
The story is told from the point of view of a deaf woman, which is different from how most novels tell their stories. The children in the story, Flint and Cecile, are the children of her sister, Frances. Frances isn't exactly up for mother of the year award, especially when Flint escapes from a juvenile detention center (he has quite a list of crimes behind him), and decides that he has no intention of going back. So, he takes his little sister (the relationship between the two is very...bothersome, to say the least), and they try and make a run for it, doing some downright terrible things in order to get away.
The writing style made it very difficult to concentrate on the story (actually, there were like three or four stories going on within this book, which made it even more difficult to concentrate), because the author detailed so many different characters, settings, and plots in a very poetic, almost lyrical, writing form. This writing style isn't a bad writing style, which I think is better suited for short stories (which I would love to read by this author, because I think she could really do some wonders with short stories).
The book itself isn't a bad a book...I knew pretty much from the beginning how the book would end, it's rather predictable. But I really didn't think it would be as horribly depressing as it was. I think that was the main problem I had with this book, aside from the writing style, and the fact that there were just too many different stories (like flashbacks) jammed into one short novel.
I considered not finishing this book several times, because the book and I just weren't a very good fit, but I'm glad I finished it.
Read my full review at PopMythology.com.
Author of DoG