Tuesday 7 August 2018

The New Moon's Arms

Finished July 18
The New Moon's Arms by Nalo Hopkinson

This novel was one I picked because of a challenge over at Following the Thread. The story follows a woman, Calamity, as she undergoes some major changes in her life. Her name as a girl was Chastity, but she changed it to Calamity as it felt more fitting to her. Her family was poor, and when her mother disappeared when she was still a young girl, there were all kinds of rumours that put her on the outside at school. Soon after that, a major storm caused destruction to the island where she'd lived until then, Blessée, and when they evacuated that island, her father was offered a house on Dolorosse. When Calamity was sixteen, she got pregnant, and her father kicked her out. She survived, and made a life for herself and her daughter Ife, and eventually when her father became terminally ill with lung cancer, she returned to look after him. As the book opens, she is at his funeral,
When she was young, Calamity was a finder, who seemed to have the skill to locate things that people had lost, but that disappeared around the time her mother did. Lately though, something like it seems to have returned. Calamity feels warm, and her hands go tingly, and something shows up unexpectedly. Her doctor says it is just menopause, but she thinks it is more than that.
At the funeral, it is her pin, that her mother gave her, that she has been missing since childhood. That appearance is followed by others, some former possessions, some larger than herself, and one hurt little boy on the beach near her home.
As new people come into Calamity's life, from old friends, to new men, she finds herself needing to adjust her attitude, and not every interaction goes well. She hasn't talked to Ife's father in years, but finds herself reaching out to him again, and dealing with Ife's choices for her own life. She fights against the term grandma, but loves her young grandson Stanley.
She believes in things that can't be explained, from her finding ability, to the personality of her car Victoria, to the strange physical attributes of the young boy she has found. She calls him Agway, from a noise he makes often, and finds herself wanting to both protect him, and care for him. He reminds her of a child she met a couple of times when she herself was just a child, and we see these memories. There are also a few times where an employee of the local Zooquarium notices things that are odd about the endangered monk seals, and these are interspersed at key moments in the story.
From the salt factories, to the cashew groves, the monk seals to the pressure of hotel chains and resorts, we see how the island and its inhabitants are under pressure to change.
I've all kinds of ideas percolating in my brain about how to take instances and themes from this book and create something, and will post it when it comes to fruition.

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