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The New Moon's Arms

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  517 Ratings  ·  89 Reviews
THE NEW MOON'S ARMS is a mainstream magical realism novel set in the Caribbean on the fictional island of Dolorosse. Calamity, born Chastity, has renamed herself in a way she feels is most fitting. She's a 50-something grandmother whose mother disappeared when she was a teenager and whose father has just passed away as she begins menopause. With this physical change of lif ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 23rd 2007 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 1st 2007)
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Ben Babcock
Nalo Hopkinson is not Margaret Atwood.

This may seem like a strange and perhaps obvious epiphany to have. Indeed, some of you might be advanced enough not to need to read an entire book before arriving at it. Some of you might be even further advanced (say, doctorate in philosophy) and question the veracity of this proposition. So allow me to explain what I mean, and you philosophers can decide for yourself.

I should explain that there are things about Nalo Hopkinson, or specifically about The New
Wilhelmina Jenkins
In her usual unique style, Nalo Hopkinson takes the often-told folk belief that humans and seals are related, and creates a great story. I loved her protagonist Calamity (formerly Chastity) who, instead of experiencing menopause in the usual manner, discovers that she has regained her prepubescent power as a finder of lost things. When she finds a child wrapped in seaweed, she is drawn into a world she briefly experienced as a child. Calamity is far from perfect - she is hostile to gay people be ...more
Lila ( formerly Jalilah )
The New Moon's Arms is a perfect summer read. Set in the Caribbean, it is light splashy and fun and makes you feel like hanging out on the beach while reading it. Yet at the same time it is deep and touches on a number of issues. Parts are humorous, other parts very sad. Calamity, the leading character, experiences many life changing events at once; her father, who she has taken care of for years, dies, she starts menopause and every time she has a hot flash something she lost years ago appears ...more
Aug 30, 2007 Heather rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
As a child, Chastity Lambkin could “find” almost anything; a mislaid book, lost change, missing keys – all she had to do was concentrate on the item and wait for the last two fingers of her left hand to tingle.
The day Chastity’s mother’s empty rowboat drifted ashore, Chastity stopped finding things forever. She dared not find the thing she missed most, so she couldn’t find anything at all.
Years later, 52-year old Chastity (now called “Calamity”) rediscovers her long-gone talent in the unlikeli
Jun 07, 2015 Donna rated it it was ok
I wish I could have liked this. The story had potential. I always hate using that word, because I certainly am no expert. I just know what I like and I feel I could have liked this story but it didn't seem to go anywhere.

My biggest problem with this book was the writing. It read like a log. There was a lot of, this happened, then we went here, and there we saw that, yada, yada, yada. The characters were like stick figures going through motions. I didn't feel connected to any of them and I didn'
Aug 26, 2016 Suzi rated it really liked it
I love the way Nalo Hopkinson writes complex and imperfect characters. As in many of her books, Hopkinson focuses on the fraught relationships between headstrong women: independent daughters, and sharp tongued mothers. The strong bond of love that exists even as too quick insults fray its edges. The main character is a woman in her 50s who was born Chastity and renamed herself the much more fitting Calamity. Because she's certainly not interested in being chaste and tends to let her mouth get he ...more
Jan 09, 2016 beatricks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Obligatory SJW alphabet soup notice: this book is by a QWOC and stars older WOC and QMOC. It is set in the Caribbean. Hooray.

This was a fun listen, although I had reservations at the beginning when the opening scene was the protagonist's father's funeral. Almost immediately, though, one learns that this isn't a sit around and cry kind of book. Our protagonist, originally named Chastity, renamed herself Calamity and intends to carry on that way. Indeed, things are getting increasingly calamitous
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I picked this from my bookshelves (one of the many to-read) to take on a trip to the Bahamas, and ended up reading most of it on the ship. The premise is interesting - a woman's father dies and as she mourns and hits menopause, her old "finding" abilities start coming back. Items from her childhood start reappearing (often dropping from the sky, but also an entire cashew orchard) and then a little boy washes up on shore.

I liked the setting although the island, Dolorosse, is imagined. The langua
Blake Charlton
Jun 17, 2010 Blake Charlton rated it it was amazing
an masterfully realized narrative, expertly producing a vivid sense of character and place. calamity seems at once unique, with her full-force charm and flair up character flaws. and yet there is something slightly archetypal about her--nothing so strong as to raise the specter of 'stock character,' but surrounded by images and concerns of fertility or lack their of, one gets the sense of having met her before...most likely in a local grocery store, but maybe in a particular culture's mythology, ...more
Genevieve Williams
Dec 20, 2011 Genevieve Williams rated it liked it
Engaging and breezily quick read, the first I've read by Hopkinson and won't be the last. She has a smooth, liquid style that works really well with the story she's telling, and the character of Calamity--who is difficult and knows it--is fun to watch, though she probably wouldn't be all that much fun to actually live with. Indeed, most of the people around her, including her daughter, seem to find her a trial, and Calamity's own resistant and irresolute attitude to the inevitability of age begi ...more
Apr 05, 2015 Nancy rated it liked it
(listened on audio book. the reader was Gin Hammond, and she was amazing!)

the book has a great tone and a generous sprinkling of several everyday/modern issues of caribbean life, along with neat layers of mythological history and faerie-type magic. i actually liked that the main character is infuriatingly self-centered. that, at 53, she's still figuring out how to be a grown-up.

i struggled with the flow of the plot.. i found all the sudden offers of help and folks showing back up in her life ki
Sam Benson
Mar 05, 2015 Sam Benson rated it liked it
This was a quick, light read. Lovely prose, with many excellent characters. Really enjoyed Calamity, the wonderfully likable, if undeniably flawed protagonist who despite her wisdom is learning all sorts of new, mysterious things -- the onset of menopause, a re-discovery of her magical power to "find" things, new perspectives on her deceased or absent parents, introductions to new people who force her to rethink long-ingrained prejudices, reclamation of maternal feelings, the revival of her beli ...more
Jul 30, 2013 Kate rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf
A clever, brave and deftly crafted book, witty as well as humorous, equally magical and realistic, and every word ringing true to boot. I feel like it should have been a five-star book, pinging as it does, so many of my fictional bells: rounded protagonist and characters of colour! Middle-aged feisty but certainly imperfect female lead! Non-Western mythologies! Juicy themes of family/friendship, changes and chances! but it inexplicably fell short of the all-out love I should've felt. Maybe the w ...more
Kimmy Dee
Jun 20, 2016 Kimmy Dee rated it really liked it
On the one hand, yay, a mermaid story. I love them. It is also not a retelling of The Little Mermaid, thank goodness for that, but a true blue Caribbean mermaid story. Calamity, who has the special ability to find things, found a little boy washed up on the beach and then quickly realises that he is more than just a miracle find. On the other hand, Calamity is not an easy person to like. She is homophobic, for one, which reflects a lot of things I've heard around me. But she tries, I guess, some ...more
JJ DeBenedictis
Apr 21, 2016 JJ DeBenedictis rated it really liked it
I grabbed this book because they didn't have Nalo Hopkinson book I was looking to read, but I'm perfectly glad I did. Although this novel has few fantasy elements, I still found it more enjoyable than I usually find such books. This is because the main character is charming in her firebrand messiness. "Calamity" is a menopausal Caribbean woman with a touch of magic she can't control, a frank appetite for men, and a strained relationship with her daughter. Oh, and she just rescued a 2-year-old me ...more
I enjoyed The New Moon's Arms very much, it's a friendly book with an atypical (and welcome) protagonist. She's likable, but difficult and flawed - one of those flaws is that she likes herself rather too much. Hopkinson is great at creating characters, and I'm happy I've finally read some of her work.

However, I don't think the book ever came together. It felt a bit uncooked, and the mythology and minor strands of the story were never as incorporated as they should have been.
So, I really liked this book. I love how abrasive Calamity is. She's mighty flawed, and it's really great to follow the narrative from her perspective. That is, until she gets all homophobic. And she doesn't appear to be on her way to learning a lesson by the end either. While I love that there's more than one queer person in this book (and a bisexual man! rare in media!), and their portrayal is nothing but positive, we only see them through Calamity's eyes, and she's NOT into it. I keep wave
May 13, 2014 M'heeraw rated it really liked it
Your are introduce to the main character, Calamity, as she is entering menopause. The story begins with the death of her father and the introduction of her daughter, grandson, and her daughter's husband. Early in the story you find out that Calamity has a strong negative feelings against homosexual, specifically gay men and have mind to show it and say it too.

But that soon change when she finds a toddler wash up on the beach. Now she is lovely dovely with the opportunity to be a mom again and ha
Mar 09, 2015 Allie rated it really liked it
The New Moon’s Arms is a story of growing older and of having to face the person you’ve allowed yourself to become. Calamity has not had an easy life, but she is a difficult person to love. Calamity’s story in told a distinct and interesting voice, and the weaknesses of her character are shown with an unflattering honesty. Calamity was not always an especially likeable character, and the fantastical elements reflected her tendency to cling to the past and her self-absorption. She was an engaging ...more
Nov 14, 2008 Elaine rated it really liked it
Beautiful book, with a wonderful strong, human, vibrant woman lead character. Takes place on a fictional Caribbean island, and gives you a real feel for the lives of the people who live there. A contemporary setting that blends love,mother/daughter relationships, and other complex emotions with magical realism,
Mar 24, 2014 Marsha rated it it was amazing
Nalo Hopkinson never disappoints. Her writing is both engaging and genuine. It is set in Caribbean...and it reminds me of being on Exuma, which was an extra treat. I always love Hopkinson's characters...always really makes their voices more authentic. The main character, and the "voice" of the book is Calamity (who is true to her adopted name in both circumstance and deed), a 50-something woman just starting menopause, who gets her unusual gift of "finding" back with the change. She ...more
Joell Smith-Borne
Jun 20, 2016 Joell Smith-Borne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf-f
I picked this one up because Hopkinson was going to be at WisCon and I wanted a book I could get signed. This one is about a women at the front edge of menopause--something I can relate to, unfortunately. Great story about finding lost things, though.
It was really exciting to read a book written in the kind of language I was born in to. While I have long ago lost my Jamaican accent, it all came back in reading this.

Unfortunately, the story of mysterious children etc etc did little to appeal to me.
Andreas Manessinger
It's not Science Fiction. It's not Fantasy. In a way it is a cross of very realistic ordinary life in an exotic, West Indian setting, and a fairie tale. It is not a perfect book either. I think one aspect of the fairie part (the zoo) could have been dropped without any damage to the book, and the myth could have been more integrated. I thoroghly enjoyed the book anyway and I have already started reading her debut novel "Brown Girl In The Ring".

For me as a non-native reader the book is also extre
Holly Booms Walsh
This is the first Nalo Hopkinson book I read. I was very eager to dive into her work after having seen her panels at Nerd Cook: Stories. This is magical realism, set int he Caribbean, with a hint of a selkie-type mythology. This isn't your Sarah Addison Allen brand of magical realism, all pretty and fae and heartwarming. It's not even the Alice Hoffman brand of magical realism, where everyone feels thing so deeply and emotions express themselves metaphorically, and it almost always comes down to ...more
Nov 17, 2015 Alli rated it it was amazing
A very well-written novel that could probably be called magical realism, set in the Caribbean and featuring an older woman of color. Calamity Lambkin (born Chastity) is a beautifully complex, three-dimensional, and highly flawed protagonist. Other characters include gay and bisexual men. Deals with slavery, capitalism, teen pregnancy, families, and homophobia - the latter in a particularly interesting way, because the protagonist never repents for her bigotry, but the work itself is still absolu ...more
Catherine Schaff-Stump
Feb 20, 2011 Catherine Schaff-Stump rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
That's what I want to write like when I grow up.
Diana Thomsen
Island mythology? Magical realism? I'm not really sure. But some really strange things happen here! Still, the story was good and the characters compelling. Moral compass, however, is horrendously skewed, and I don't think I'd want to hang out with anyone in this story. (view spoiler) Overall, the story was okay, but I don't think I'd go out of my way to read anything else by this author. I've read two of her books now, and, ...more
Sep 16, 2016 Brittany rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The things that make you think

I debated on several of Nalo Hopkinsons novels and opted this one. I am so glad I took me maybe 15 pages to get hooked, probably because of the "accent" it was written in, but man when I got into this one I didn't want to put it down. I now look at seals completely different and yes I know this is fictional but the way Nalo makes you think is amazing. I want a part two! ASAP! Was Calamities mother a sea person? What ever happened to the little girl she play

Once again, Nalo Hopkinson breathes fresh life into a genre that too often centers the stories of the young, the idealistic, the mainstream. The New Moon’s Arms tells the story of the old, the ancient, those pushed to the edges and forgotten by time. After a life spent running from her own past identity, then spending two years nursing her father through his fatal battle with cancer, Calamity (AKA Chastity) Lambkin hopes to be able to move on with her life. An anonymous fling with a chance-met f

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Nalo Hopkinson is a Jamaican-born writer and editor who lives in Canada. Her science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories often draw on Caribbean history and language, and its traditions of oral and written storytelling.

More about Nalo Hopkinson...

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