A woman juggles domestic calamities while trying to avoid a more serious crisis in German author Mareike Krügel's first novel to be translated into English, "Look at Me."
Katharina lives near Lübeck on Germany’s Baltic coast, but her tone of wryly comic exasperation closely resembles that of popular frazzled working-mother heroines from Britain, Australia, and the U.S. A part-time music teacher, Katharina has been carrying most of the responsibility for care of her household and two children — Helli, a stubborn and emotionally chaotic 11-year-old recently diagnosed with ADHD, and 17-year-old Alex, whose joyful immersion in musical theater feels to his classically trained mother like rebellion — ever since economic necessity forced her architect husband, Costas, to take a job in Berlin. For more than a year he has come home only on weekends, a situation she understands yet resents. This weekend he’s staying in Berlin for his office Christmas party, and Katharina has declined an invitation to join him. Instead she’s planned her first visit in 15 years from musician and former flatmate Kilian, her platonic best friend before she met Costas. But the day goes awry early when Katharina must collect Helli from school after one of the girl's explosive, semi-intentional nosebleeds. Various crises follow. Katharina helps her neighbors Theo and Heinz search for the thumb Theo’s cut off while tinkering with the lawnmower. Alex — whom Katharina thought was gay — introduces his annoyingly perfect girlfriend. Helli has a major meltdown on horseback. Katharina’s musician sister demands help with her failing love life. Katharina gets dangerously drunk with Kilian. The pet rats escape. It all reads like a domestic romp except for the darker fears and regrets that Katharina can't quite escape, like a third baby in her past or the fact that she’s yet to make a doctor’s appointment or tell Costas about the lump she’s found in her breast.
Krügel knows her way around both the salty and sweet of marriage and motherhood.
A bold and breathtaking follow-up
In "Of Blood and Bone," the sequel to Nora Roberts' apocalyptic "Year One," the world settles into its new normal after The Doom. The girl who will be The One reaches her 13th birthday, makes the choice to train with her magical mentor, and steps into her many gifts, then must find allies to prepare for the war to come.
The Doom has killed billions, and the survivors have aligned themselves into different factions, with various priorities. Many have discovered magical abilities; many who don’t have them hunt those who do. Governments have failed, electricity is scarce, industrial production is practically nonexistent, so in order to survive, people must produce or scavenge food and goods. Thirteen years later, New Hope is thriving, magicks and normals banding together for protection and community. Meanwhile, Fallon Swift, raised on a remote farm with her mother, stepfather and three younger brothers, has learned the basics of survival but knows that when she turns 13, she’s expected to leave with the mysterious Mallick and train for two years, preparing to step into her role as The One, destined to save the world. When the time comes, she goes with him into a mystical forest populated with elves and faeries, where she studies spells, trains with swords, and spars with ghostly figures in order to build her strength and abilities. On the way she finds allies of every variety, including three spirit animals who represent aspects of her powers and humanity that enhance her ability to lead. She also meets a shadowy figure in her dreams who becomes more real once she’s able to travel across spaces in a flash. She realizes he’s a son of New Hope and guesses that their destinies are tied closely together along with his twin sister’s. Change is coming, and it’s up to them to create a new, better world — or die trying. Roberts continues her apocalyptic "Chronicles of The One" with a mesmerizing follow-up that is bold and breathtaking. Focusing mainly on Fallon’s rise, the plot offers details and vignettes that glimpse the horror and trauma of the past 15 years and introduces the characters who presumably will frame the future.
This installment feels a bit like a rest between the trauma of The Doom and the war to come except for an explosive end battle; however, meeting the next generation and watching the heroine grow into her powers and leadership is enthralling.