ISBN is

978-0-670-03091-0 / 0670030910

All Over Creation

by Ruth Ozeki

Publisher:Viking Adult

Edition:Hardcover

Language:English

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About the book:

Fiction is overrun with dysfunctional families, most far more twisted than those portrayed in Ruth Ozeki's All Over Creation. But Ozeki's second novel consistently compels, because her sharply drawn characters feel absolutely three-dimensional. They suck us in early, and their woes ring true. The three clans at once enabling and torturing each other in All Over Creation--the central Fuller family, the neighbouring Quinns, and the rag-tag activist found-family known as the "Seeds"--lift a basic morality play about forgiveness to a higher level. But what really gives All Over Creation its steam and sends it off in unexpected directions is the supporting story of modern mankind's crucial but tenuous connection to nature, set in this case on a potato farm in sleepy Idaho.

Lloyd Fuller and his war-bride wife Momoko struggle to make their massive farm thrive. Teenage daughter Yumi, on the other hand, has no trouble blooming. She's a wild child, but a series of bad decisions lead to a protracted estrangement from her puritanical father. When, years later, the adult Yumi reluctantly returns to the farm with her three children to care for her ailing parents, she must confront the wreckage she left behind (and the wreckage she's made of her own life), while forging an uneasy peace with childhood friend Cass Quinn. Before long, the Fullers and the Quinns must also confront the radical environmentalist Seeds, who are convinced that dying Lloyd and delusional Momoko hold the key to propagating plant life on earth--and sidetracking the schemes of evil corporations--through smart farming. And they may be right. The abundant children on hand reinforce this theme of proper husbandry; they are, like nature, both a tremendous gift and a daunting responsibility. And while not every character--Yumi in particular--is likable, Ozeki, whose first novel was the funny and polemical My Year of Meats, provokes empathy through plain old humanity. Indeed, Ozeki's ability to make us care deeply about the fate of these strangers is the book's most abiding grace. The story's conclusion takes some convenient outs, but the ride to the end is touching and terrific, thanks to Ozeki's spare but elegant prose and, especially, her kaleidoscopic cast. --Kim Hughes

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