Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Book in Review: Queens of All the Earth by Hannah Sternberg


Bancroft Press
As her freshman classmates move into dorms at Cornell University, Olivia Somerset suffers a nervous breakdown. When months of coaxing and analyzing fail to rouse Olivia from her stupor, big sister Miranda decides the sisters should fly off to Barcelona for some "vacation therapy."

When a mistake at their Barcelona hostel leaves the Somersets in a large co-ed dorm room, Olivia and Miranda are saved by kindly Mr. Brown and his son Greg, who happily volunteer to surrender their private room. But while Olivia feels an instant connection with brooding Greg Brown, Miranda sides with fellow guest and cocky American travel writer Lenny:

The Browns are just plain weird, and must be avoided at all costs.

In the midst of urbane Peruvian priests-in-training and Scottish soccer fans, from the shops of La Rambla to the waters of the Mediterranean to the soaring heights of Montjuic, Miranda works to protect her still-fragile sister while Olivia struggles to understand her burgeoning adulthood, her feelings for Greg, and the fear that makes the next step in her life so impossible to take.

Inspired by E. M. Forster's classic novel A Room with a View, debut author Hannah Sternberg's Queens of All the Earth is a poetic journey of young love and self-awakening set against the beauty of Catalonia. Teenagers and adults alike will be riveted and moved by this coming-of-age novel about the conflicting hearts and minds of two very different sisters.

Why I Read This:
It was definitely the sister aspect to this book that had me interested.


An interesting book with awkward phrasing. While reading Queens of All the Earth I sometimes felt like the author was doing something I could relate to. Other times I felt like cringing at the way it felt like "that" book. You know, the kind that tries to be literary and metaphorical without, for whatever reason, fully succeeding at it.

I liked Olivia, one of the sisters in this book. I felt like she was the kind of person that did what she was told all her life, only to wake up and realize that all the people around her were simply being manipulative and/or overbearing rather than helping her face the reality of life.

Miranda, on the other hand I could not stand. She was controlling without even realizing it, and though she wanted to help Olivia get through her pain it felt like she just kept sabatoging her with the way she was acting all the time.

Some of the tourists in their hostel I liked - Greg and Mr. Brown, and Marc, for example, others I found irritating again (Lenny was a huge one). It made me so mad, in a bad way. I didn't want to feel that irritated while reading, even though those characters were probably meant to be irritating.

Overall, I did like the story. Every time I put it down I'd find myself thinking about it sometime during the day. There were some beautiful moments and I felt that the author really captured Olivia's character very well. I don't know if I would recommend this one, per say, but it was an interesting read, at least for me.

My Rating:


I  received a free e-copy from the publisher via Netgalley, in exchange for my honest opinion.

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