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Still devastated by grief five years after the death of her husband and teenage daughter in a car accident, Julia hopes to find solitude and solace while house-sitting at her aunt and uncle's California estate. Amid the lush landscapes and lemon groves of Malibu, Julia does find these things-in addition to an unexpected relationship with Roberto, who oversees the estate. Roberto, an undocumented immigrant, connects with Julia over her loss: he became separated from his young daughter during their crossing from Mexico and believes her to be dead. Julia, an anthropologist specializing in movements and migrations, thinks that the little girl is still alive and sets out to find her-even if doing so means potentially losing Roberto. The plot alternates from an initially tepid pace to moments of intensity-as when the estate is threatened-that seem largely irrelevant to the developing narrative. Nevertheless, Rice's fans will appreciate the evocative setting and unconventional romance, as well as the harrowing, if familiar, depictions of border crossing and the fascinating parallels drawn between Julia's research interests (she studies the Irish who arrived in America over a century ago) and modern-day Mexican immigrants. Agent: Andrea Cirillo, Jane Rotrosen Agency. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Trust Rice (Little Night, 2012), known for fiction that explores the power of family, to find the humanity in illegal immigration, a topic too often relegated to rhetoric and statistics. The story centers on Julia and Roberto, both of whom have suffered the loss of a daughter. Julia's was killed in a car accident. Roberto's little girl went missing as the pair crossed into the U.S. from Mexico a trek through punishing desert that Rice depicts with visceral, heartbreaking brutality. The pair meet at the Malibu home of Julia's aunt and uncle, where Julia is housesitting and Roberto oversees the titular orchard. An unlikely friendship forms between the two, a bond born out of shared grief, which eventually grows into a tender romance. Though Rice acknowledges the cultural chasm between her lovers, she also imbues her characters with uncommon kindness and understanding. Initially weighed down with exposition, Rice's novel picks up steam as Julia takes up the search for Roberto's daughter. An unexpected plot turn will leave readers begging for a sequel.--Wetli, Patty Copyright 2010 Booklist