When checking out one of my review assignments for Armchair Interviews, I stumbled upon this wonderful novel and promptly requested a review copy. There's so much in this book that I had a hard time writing a review within the given parameters. The following is taken from a wordy draft of the review. You can read the full and final review at Armchair Interviews...
The New Moon's Arms by Nalo Hopkinson
53-year-old Calamity Lambkin's life seems to be coming loose at the seams. Beginning "the change of life" and grappling with the loss of the father that she nursed for the past two years, she is amazed when pieces of her past begin to materialize out of thin air. With the onset of menopause, Calamity seems to have reawakened the "finding" gift she had as a youth. Only now, the lost items come to her – everything from her favorite stuffed animal, which literally falls from the sky landing on her head, to her father’s cashew grove, which appears one evening in the yard of her new home.
Things become even more complicated when Calamity begins to look into her father’s past and when she finds a mysterious 3-year-old boy, who she suspects to be one of the sea people, washed up on the beach. She cares for him like her own son, causing a number of problems with her own grown daughter and young grandson.
A fiercely independent woman, the novel’s protagonist became a single mom at age sixteen. As an adult she eschewed her given name Chastity, for Calamity, a name she insists everyone from the local minister to her own daughter use. A very real character, Calamity is fraught with imperfections: she is honest to a fault, she curses like a sailor, and she’s unknowingly cultivated a hard heart caused by being in love with a man she can never have.
Set in the lush West Indies and imbued with their culture, The New Moon's Arms is a mesmerizing book. Hopkinson deftly handles both the mystery of the sea people and the anomaly of the local Mediterranean monk seals, adding both fantastical and historical elements to the mysteries.