Houghton Mifflin, Hardcover, 9780395785898, 256pp.
Publication Date: January 4, 2001
Marie Zimmer has stories to tell but will not speak. Deaf since the age of nine and motherless since she was eleven, Marie is a mute witness to her family's turmoil, the only one bold enough to tell the tale of Flint and Cecile, her sister's dangerous children.
At sixteen, Flint has spent eight years of his life in juvenile detention. Half child, half full-grown criminal, he escapes from the Landers School for Boys and comes home to find the one person he loves and trusts, his little sister Cecile. Together they rob and terrorize a local doctor, steal their mother's car, then strike out alone on a desperate journey south to the Crow Indian Reservation, where their ancestors once lived.
Is Cecile Flint's hostage, or his accomplice? Nobody knows. Only Marie, the children's deaf aunt, understands the strange logic of their crimes, their desire and fear, their devotion to each other.
Fusing family myth with American history, SWEET HEARTS exposes a never-ending chain of wandering and abandonment, the disappearance of mothers, the drowning of people. It is a devastating story, one woman's silent struggle to unravel the web of violence that has trapped her family for generations. This passionate tale is also a celebration of life in the midst of sorrow. In the fierce light of her imagination, Marie Zimmer weaves the past through the present, inventing a language of signs subtle enough to illuminate the mysterious ways in which we are all connected.
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"Prose so taut and full of feeling that it enters the mind as though it were being whispered in the dark" Booklist, ALA, Starred Review
"Episodic, intensely imagined and darkly portentous." Publishers Weekly, Starred
"Brilliantly imagined and infused with a raw spirituality that cuts to the bone." Starred review.
"Thon writes so searingly...that the reader is not compelled to judge, but to understand...the violent lives she depicts." Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"...A richly nuanced portrayal of a community whose relationships--and history--are fraught with difficult complexities." Publishers Weekly
". . . her most haunting and devastating [novel] to date . . . shattering yet deeply spiritual." Booklist, ALA, Starred Review
"The range of emotion Thon has her narrator intuit in other characters' lives -- and share with us -- is remarkable." The Los Angeles Times
"A powerful, pitch-perfect novel." Elle
"Sweet Hearts conjures our relentless search to find a kind of personal, imperfect transcendence." The San Francisco Chronicle
"Thon manipulates the pieces of her story like colored gems at the end of a kaleidoscope." Cleveland Plain Dealer
"[Thon] has an arresting prose style, confrontational and searching." Newsday
"Thon is an immensely gifted prose stylist and storyteller . . . that homework results in passages of breathtaking authenticity and power." The Washington Post
"Thon's writing is incredible . . . her plots are driving, and what she has added to this one is a contagious empathy." The Oregonian