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Formats
Open Ebook Ebook Details
  • 08/2020
  • 9781734726015
  • pages
  • $7.99
Paperback Book Details
  • 08/2020
  • 9781734726008
  • 314 pages
  • $14.95
Angelyn Voss
Author, Illustrator
Stand a Little Out of My Sun
STAND A LITTLE OUT OF MY SUN is a multicultural novel exploring the timeless issues of love, coming of age, the power of forgiveness, and the ties that bind families together. It’s the story of Sophie and her family. Sophie’s mother, Christina, joins the Army during WWII and marries Tom Peters, a brilliant, non-Greek soldier without “The Permission” from her parents. Hell breaks loose as Tom’s dispassionate ways collide with the family’s effusive temperaments. Twelve-year-old Sophie is the sole protector of her little brother, Niko, as they are caught in the middle of a cultural mismatch. Between the Greek family with their unleashed passions, a defeated mother and unscrupulous father, Sophie and Niko’s early years are perilous, yet rich. Their grandparents, Yiayia and Papou, are the stakes in the ground for the children. Tom’s genius takes a sinister turn. He draws nine-year-old Niko into his under-the-table car business. The only person who might know why some mobsters and shady Cousin Taki keep coming to the house is Niko’s best friend, Noops, who is unable to talk to anyone. Niko shuts Sophie out, and she can’t bear the way his eyes have begun to get the same hard flash as their father’s. As Niko protects the fragile bond with his father, Sophie digs up clues. Her accusations pierce their father’s conscience, but it’s too late. Violence ensues after he steals money from the mob. A gun-wielding gangster bursts into their garage. Tom throws himself in front of his son as a shield, but a bullet passes through him and kills Niko. A cold, unforgiving wind blows through Sophie’s heart. Yiayia is the glue that holds Sophie and her mother together. Papou visits Tom in prison. Perhaps it is Papou’s astonishing mercy under impossible circumstances or the endurance of family, but every notion Tom has ever conceived becomes subject to a new truth. Tom is forever changed, but Sophie refuses to reconcile. Tom serves out his time in prison, and under the FBI’s umbrella of protection, the family assumes a new identity and moves to Oregon. At age seventeen, Sophie is wrenched from the life she has always known. She befriends a group of black kids, which causes quite a stir as the lines that define the times are crossed. A young man violently attacks Sophie to teach her the rules of racial separation. She fights for her life, and Tom rescues her. Sophie sees her father with new eyes. The young man’s father wants revenge. He uncovers Tom’s shady past and forges a deal with the Chicago underworld to have him killed. In a downtown Portland car chase, Tom’s car plunges into the river. His body is never found. Upon her wedding day, Sophie discovers that her father is alive. He stays in hiding, knowing his family is safe and cared for without him.
Reviews
Visual artist Voss’s moving debut novel portrays an immigrant family’s struggles and triumphs with the same warmth and emotional depth that resonate in her paintings. The story centers around 12-year-old Sophie Peters, who lives with her parents and brother in the East Side neighborhood of Chicago in the 1950s. Sophie loves her mother’s big Greek family, especially her Yiayia Sophia and Papou George, but her father calls them “nosy and ignorant.” Her parents fight often, and Sophie worries that her father is a bad influence on her sensitive, empathetic younger brother Niko. When her father’s actions throw her family into turmoil, Sophie must summon the courage to cope.

Sophie is a perceptive, audacious heroine, and readers will admire her deep devotion to her family. Her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother’s stories are all woven into Sophie’s, offering a multi-faceted look at the family’s journey to America. Anecdotes about life with her Greek family—visits to Lake Michigan and the Field Museum, road trips to Detroit in her grandparents’ Oldsmobile, family scandals, and funny memories—bring the Poulos clan to life. Although Sophie and her family face outside dangers and challenges, their complex but profound ties are the heart of the novel, and Voss’s writing shines when it focuses on these relationships.

This intergenerational story spans eras and locations, but it transitions between them with smooth clarity. Voss immerses readers in settings from Tripoli, to a WWII women’s army barracks in Virginia, to a Chicago alive with possibility but also where “the numbing cold and steely skies [transform] Sophie’s raw, anger-driven sorrow into a dull ache.” Sophie’s Greek heritage is likewise finely detailed, with Greek food, rituals, and phrases incorporated throughout the story. But while these particulars will transport readers, universal themes of loss, forgiveness, and redemption will speak to their hearts. Voss’s gentle, compelling family drama offers a clear-eyed appreciation for our heritage and how it shapes us.

Takeaway: This uplifting 1950s coming-of-age saga demonstrates how courage, compassion, and faith can overcome emotional adversity.

Great for fans of: Pam Records’s Tied With Twine, Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A

Formats
Open Ebook Ebook Details
  • 08/2020
  • 9781734726015
  • pages
  • $7.99
Paperback Book Details
  • 08/2020
  • 9781734726008
  • 314 pages
  • $14.95

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