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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Meet the Laments, a white South African family whose motto, "Laments travel," is borne out in this impressive novel of struggle, sacrifice, and the true meaning of kinship.
Hagen's wildly entertaining debut revolves around the aptly named Will Lament, adopted by the parents of a baby killed during a kidnapping attempt by Will's own birth parents. Despite this shaky beginning, Will is accepted into his peripatetic new family and grows up as they move from South Africa to Bahrain to London and ultimately to the U.S., in pursuit of the elusive dreams of their patriarch. Will's initial sense of displacement emerges when he notices a distinct lack of resemblance to the rest of his family. To further complicate the family dynamic, Will's parents swap traditional gender roles when his tenacious mother, sensing that her husband will never settle down and make good, rolls up her sleeves and does so herself, becoming the family breadwinner. Throughout the trials and tribulations faced by the Laments, author Hagen deftly evokes both the societal forces that test brittle familial ties and the internal forces that threaten to tear them apart. In The Laments, Hagen depicts an eccentric clan that is both resilient and oddly triumphant despite hardship and heartache, and creates unforgettable characters, both heroic and universal. (Fall 2004 Selection)