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The New Moon's Arms

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  375 ratings  ·  69 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
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
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
Aug 30, 2007 Heather rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Blake Charlton
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
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
A fine read! I'm absolutely in love with the way this story is told. I didn't know what to expect from this book and was sucked in right from the beginning. This book blends parts of West Indian myths and a historical account with the story of Calamity Lambkin.

Calamity, who changed her name from Chastity, is in her early fifties and didn't have exactly an easy life: She'd lost her mother at a young age, had to fend for herself as a teenage mother and didn't have contact with her estranged father
Sam Benson
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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.
Catherine Schaff-Stump
That's what I want to write like when I grow up.
Lorina Stephens
I really wanted to like this novel, written by fellow Canadian Nalo Hopkinson, and recommended highly by several people.

Unfortunately the novel fell short in so many areas. The New Moon's Arms could have been a great novel. It deals with a classic story of redemption. However, Hopkinson's realization of that story just didn't float.

Calamity, the middle-aged protagonist, at first isn't clearly defnied when we meet her at the graveside of her father. Given her behaviour, I honestly thought she wa
This book was hilarious - I had to put it down a few times, I was laughing so hard - and yet had a grip on the ol' heartstrings the whole time, too.

Unable to shake off my piratey leanings, I decided to make a foray into Caribbean spec fic, and this story (sans pirates - the main character, Calamity, has suspicions of sea people, though) has a wonderful rhythm to the language that evokes the wind and the waves and island life. How exciting to find a protagonist in her fifties who is awakening to
Mocha Girl
The New Moon's Arms by Nalo Hopkinson is a wonderfully imagined, page-turning offering that combines a bit of fantasy, mystery, and romance. Amid a Caribbean backdrop, the author delivers a story centered on a 53-year-old pistol, Chastity Lambkin, who is grieving the recent loss of her estranged father to lung cancer. She is a sprightly, independent library research assistant who is determined to avoid the matronly image and cling to her youth at all costs. She demands that everyone including he ...more
Ursula Pflug
This review appeared in The Peterborough Examiner on August 18, 2007 and was reprinted in The New York Review of Science Fiction in March, 2008.

The New Moon’s Arms
by Nalo Hopkinson
Warner Books, Feb., 2007
336 pages
HC: $29.99
ISBN-10: 0446576913
ISBN-13: 978-0446576918

Review by Ursula Pflug
496 words

Toronto writer Nalo Hopkinson’s new novel, The New Moon’s Arms takes place on the fictional Caribbean island of Dolarosse. Part of the archipelago Cayaba, the island is exquisitely described as a place
Calamity Lambkin (born Chastity, until changing her name to reflect how she sees her self) is living on the fictional island of Dolorosse. She's been nursing her father through his final illness, after many years of estrangement due to her teenage pregnancy. Now in her mid-50's and going through 'the change', Calamity's life is turning upside down, starting at her father's funeral as the book opens.

Calamity is a complex character. She is prickly, hard to get along with, demanding, and very focus
The one where Calamity, upset because she's no longer young, 'rescues' a preschooler who can't walk or speak English, and meanwhile the zookeeper keeps finding extra seals in the seal pond.

This lost me at the end of Chapter 1. I don't need my POV characters to be lovable, but I need to feel that I could enjoy spending several hundred pages with them. Calamity is relentlessly shallow and self-involved, and obviously headed for a karmic smackdown of epic proportions, neither of which looked like b
This was so much better than I expected! I had read some short stories by Nalo Hopkinson previously, so I was a little wary going into this, but I guess I can chalk that experience up to my generalized troubles with short stories. This, by contrast, was really great! I got really drawn into it, and my quibbles (the minus one star reason) were mostly personal issues with Calamity, because I am very subjective that way. Other than philosophical differences, I thought that this was a wonderful book ...more
I wasn’t sure about The New Moon’s Arms as Calamity was a complex character and I did find her prickly. In the end, that’s what I liked about her. I really liked Nalo Hopkinson’s layering of character development. I also liked the plot and I am hoping that there is a continuation or a sequel because I really enjoyed this story.
I loved this book!

Who says a 50+ librarian has to lead a quiet life? Calamity, the resident of a fictitious Caribbean island, has just buried her elderly father, meets a man (but does she like him?), is fighting with her daughter, clashes with her grandson over a school science project, and then finds an unusual child on the beach with a broken leg and ends up being a foster parent to him. I found myself laughing at Calamity's irrepresible style, sharp tongue, and independent nature. (Rated R fo
gosh, i totally forgot i had read this back when it came out in 2007. gave it a far more generous rating back then. i liked a lot of what this book was trying to do, but ultimately it felt clunky and unsatisfying. another goodreads reviewer described it as "uncooked" which sums it up pretty well.
Ellen Dowdell
Not my favorite Nalo thing, but still a good read. I am perhaps not yet old enough to be the target audience, but it was still very engrossing. It played around with having a main character who is a super loveable and engaging lead but also kind of a horrible person. Not in a villainous way, but in a "homophobic old grandma" way. Which was interesting!

also a touch of anti-capitalism/colonialist politics and some magic realism.

many thoughts were provoked!
"Ifeoma not crazy, that's not what I'm saying. Sometimes I think she saner than me. But all the shit she do: if you spill salt, throw some over your left shoulder to keep the jumbies away; don't step on a crack or you put your grandmother in traction; never wear white shoes after Labour Day...It's like she think that the marvelous things in this world, the wondrous things, we can find a trick to them, you know? And if we work the trick just right, well then, we can control them..." (p. 98).

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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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