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Hummingbird Houseby Patricia Henley
National Book Award Finalist for 1999
Synopses & Reviews
Hummingbird House is the story of Kate Banner, an American midwife who travels to Central America for a brief visit with her dearest friend. But the brief visit turns into a span of years, and by the time we meet Kate, she's exhausted by years of service and her sad effort to love the wrong man. She is in Nicaragua helping flood victims when she unexpectedly loses a patient, a young woman who had given birth only the night before, on the bottom of a swamped wooden boat. That's when Kate decides it is time to go home.
Kate makes several kinds of journeys, but it is her journey north and into the seething secret wars of Guatemala that supplies Kate with her greatest challenges, and her greatest chances to love.
Henley weaves her clear and powerful prose with an unforgettable story of a human heart unbinding itself in the most unjust of worlds and delivers an ending marked by its passion, strength, substance, and beauty.
"...Patricia Henley's novel takes us into the life of one American woman who becomes part of a community where trust is as vital as bread and just as rare. With deliberate craft and enormous compassion, Henley shows us how one exhausted woman exchanges numbness for resolution, and then chooses — to witness, to act, and to love regardless of what is lost." Citation for the National Book Award
"...Kates's tale rings true in her realistic conclusion that gross injustice calls for more than merely sorrow, but also rage, sacrifice and the ability to simultaneously love and lose." Publishers Weekly
"...[an] accomplished first novel....Henley guides her readers through this tale one graceful and slicing sentence at a time, calling up both despair and wonder, outrage and hope." Hungry Mind Review
"...a moving story of love and injustice." Independent Publisher Magazine
"...[A] moody, intense, passionate first novel, written...in a near-staccato, stream-of-consciousness style that generates great immediacy..." Book
Henley's powerful debut novel is the story of Kate Banner, an American midwife, who discovers the secret wars in Guatemala. Henley weaves her clear and powerful prose with an unforgettable story of a human heart unbinding itself in the most unjust of worlds.
About the Author
Patricia Henley has published two collections of stories, Friday Night at Silver Star and The Secret of Cartwheels. Her stories have been anthologized in Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize Anthology. Hummingbird House is her first novel and was a finalist for the prestigious National Book Award in 1999 and the New Yorker Fiction Prize 1999.
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