Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Queens of All the Earth-Hannah Sternberg

Queens of All the Earth

Hannah Sternberg

Bancroft, Oct 1 2011, $13.95

ISBN: 9781610880329

In Williamsburg, Virginia, a van has been packed with stuff for Olivia Somerset to begin as a freshman at Cornell. However, Olivia abruptly shuts down. Her older sister Miranda the accountant in a state of panic calls 911. The EMTs check out Olivia who physically is normal but emotionally has shut down. They cannot do anything for the catatonic Olivia, but their College of William and Mary professor mom who is giving a presentation tells her oldest daughter to call Dr. Simons. He explains to Miranda she is buried inside her brain and should not be left alone.

Months later, Olivia remains in Virginia struggling to be what she was before she broke down. She also knows she must cope with her father's death that she thinks triggered her collapse. Miranda suggests they travel to Barcelona where they stay at a coed dormitory style hostel. There they meet other quirky people with both sisters finding a romantic interest.

With a nod to E. E. Cummings' "Orientale," Queens of All the Earth is an intriguing character study that looks deeply at a young woman trying to get up from the rug (with her family’s help) where she metamorphic lies since her massive mental meltdown. Although the support cast is not very deep in spite of being important to the story line, readers will enjoy two sisters seeking their respective grooves in the Mediterranean.

Harriet Klausner

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