Monday, April 18, 2011

REVIEW: The Foretelling by Alice Hoffman


A coming-of-age story that pierces the soul and heals the spirit, this is the tale of the future leader of the Amazon women warriors. Rain must hold fast to her inner warrior, but she is startled and mystified by the first stirrings of mercy towards the enemy.

  • Pub. Date: September 2006
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Format: Paperback , 192pp
  • Sales Rank: 127,316
  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • ISBN-13: 9780316154093
  • ISBN: 0316154091
  • Edition Description: Reprint

About the Author
from Barnes and Noble

Born in the 1950s to college-educated parents who divorced when she was young, Alice Hoffman was raised by her single, working mother in a blue-collar Long Island neighborhood. Although she felt like an outsider growing up, she discovered that these feelings of not quite belonging positioned her uniquely to observe people from a distance. Later, she would hone this viewpoint in stories that captured the full intensity of the human experience.

After high school, Hoffman went to work for the Doubleday factory in Garden City. But the eight-hour, supervised workday was not for her, and she quit before lunch on her first day! She enrolled in night school at Adelphi University, graduating in 1971 with a degree in English. She went on to attend Stanford University's Creative Writing Center on a Mirrellees Fellowship. Her mentor at Stanford, the great teacher and novelist Albert Guerard, helped to get her first story published in the literary magazine Fiction. The story attracted the attention of legendary editor Ted Solotaroff, who asked if she had written any longer fiction. She hadn't -- but immediately set to work. In 1977, when Hoffman was 25, her first novel, Property Of, was published to great fanfare.

Since that remarkable debut, Hoffman has carved herself a unique niche in American fiction. A favorite with teens as well as adults, she renders life's deepest mysteries immediately understandable in stories suffused with magic realism and a dreamy, fairy-tale sensibility. (In a 1994 article for The New York Times, interviewer Ruth Reichl described the magic in Hoffman's books as a casual, regular occurrence -- " offhand that even the most skeptical reader can accept it.") Her characters' lives are transformed by uncontrollable forces -- love and loss, sorrow and bliss, danger and death.

Hoffman's 1997 novel Here on Earth was selected as an Oprah Book Club pick, but even without Winfrey's powerful endorsement, her books have become huge bestsellers -- including three that have been adapted for the movies: Practical Magic (1995), The River King (2000), and her YA fable Aquamarine (2001).

Hoffman is a breast cancer survivor; and like many people who consider themselves blessed with luck, she believes strongly in giving back. For this reason, she donated her advance from her 1999 short story collection Local Girls to help create the Hoffman Breast Center at Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA.

For more information, check out her website
Find her on Facebook

My Thoughts
I was born out of sorrow, so my mother named me Rain.
Rain is the future queen of a band of Amazon women, and a reluctant queen at that. This story follows the life of the Amazon women- their battles, triumphs, losses and cultural practices- and the inner workings of the would-be-queen Rain.

This was a brief story, and it felt almost too brief. I felt like I wanted to know so much more. I wanted to get to know the male counterpart Melek, to get to know his people and their way of life. I wanted to know what became of Anto. I wanted to know the back story of the smith, and of Penthe and Io. This just briefly touched on so many things, and introduced characters that were only half-fleshed out. And especially frustrating, because I felt that I would like these characters and really enjoy getting to know them better.

I liked Rain. She was strong, yet she had heart. She's lived a life of sorrow much of her life, with moments of bliss. And she is conflicted, trying to be something she isn't. Her clan practices collectivism, whereby its members generally think of what is best for everyone and not a single individual. Some of the Amazon are cruel and savage, some are patient and thoughtful...
“The weak are cruel,” Cybelle said to me. “The strong have no need to be.” (p.39)

Amazons are thought to have lived in what is today Turkey, near the Black Sea. 

The Cover: I love the cover, which shows a beautiful white horse representative of Rain, looking back behind itself where a storm brews in the distance.

Content Rating: There is no vulgarity, and no graphic sex, although sex is alluded to. There is also a lesbian relationship, and lots of death and disturbing events that are spoken of, but not graphically so (things like rape and infanticide).

My final word: I generally enjoyed this story, but it felt like it was only half a story. I would have loved to dive into it more thoroughly.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

1 comment:

Jessica said...

I have not read this one by her but have read many others. Oh what a big fan I am. Love her work.