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The Fall of Alice K.
Cover of The Fall of Alice K.
The Fall of Alice K.
A Novel
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Seventeen-year-old Alice Marie Krayenbraak is beautiful, witty, a star student, and a gifted athlete. On the surface, she has it all. But in Alice's hometown of Dutch Center, Iowa, nothing is as it...
Seventeen-year-old Alice Marie Krayenbraak is beautiful, witty, a star student, and a gifted athlete. On the surface, she has it all. But in Alice's hometown of Dutch Center, Iowa, nothing is as it...
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  • Seventeen-year-old Alice Marie Krayenbraak is beautiful, witty, a star student, and a gifted athlete. On the surface, she has it all. But in Alice's hometown of Dutch Center, Iowa, nothing is as it seems. Behind the façade of order and tidiness, the family farm is failing. Alice's mother is behaving strangely amid apocalyptic fears of Y2K. And her parents have announced their plans to send her special-needs sister Aldah away. On top of it all, the uniformly Dutch Calvinist town has been rattled by an influx of foreign farm workers.
    It's the fall of senior year, and Alice now finds herself at odds with both family and cultural norms when she befriends and soon falls in love with Nickson Vang, the son of Hmong immigrants. Caught in a period of personal and community transformation, Alice and Nickson must navigate their way through vastly different traditions while fighting to create new ones of their own. Funny and provocative, amusing and unsettling, The Fall of Alice K. marks a watershed moment in the publishing career of author, Jim Heynen.

About the Author-

  • A widely published author, Jim Heynen is perhaps best known for his collections of short prose featuring young farm boys: The One Room Schoolhouse (Knopf, 1993; Vintage, 1994), The Boys' House (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2001), You Know What is Right (North Point Press, 1985), and The Man Who Kept Cigars in His Cap (Graywolf, 1979). His most recent collection of poems is titled Standing Naked: New and Selected Poems (Confluence Press, 2001). He has written two young adult novels, Cosmos Coyote and William the Nice (Henry Holt, 2000; Harper-Collins, 2001) as well as Being Youngest (Henry Holt, 1997), and one major book of nonfiction, One Hundred Over 100 (Fulcrum, 1990), which featured one hundred American centenarians. He has frequently been featured on National Public Radio reading his own stories and has been awarded National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships in both poetry and fiction. Jim Heynen lives in St. Paul with his wife Sally Williams, a former books editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 16, 2012
    In Heynen’s uneven first novel (after several short fiction collections, including The One-Room Schoolhouse), rising high school senior Alice Krayenbraak has her future mapped out: she’ll take a hiatus from sports, concentrating instead on academics, all with an eye toward college—some place sophisticated and far away from the hog manure and endless chores that characterize life on her family’s Iowa farm. But the year is 1999, and falling hog prices, combined with inclement weather and fears of Y2K, portend the downfall of the struggling farm. When the Hmong Vang family moves to town, Alice is attracted to bad boy Nickson. Dutch heritage and Calvinist doctrine dominate life in their community, and as Alice’s relationship with Nickson intensifies, she struggles with whether—in her pastor’s words—to be a restless Seeker or a satisfied Dweller. This simple dichotomy—between a desire for a different life and contentment with one’s lot—characterizes much of the novel. Although Heynen’s portrayal of young women and their relationships leaves much to be desired, his depictions of the Midwest’s evolving social and financial landscape ring true. `

  • School Library Journal

    December 1, 2012

    Gr 11 Up- In Alice's Dutch Calvinist community in Iowa, many family farms are collapsing and being displaced by corporate agribusiness conglomerates. A high school senior, Alice is an excellent student who's looking forward to college. Yet her family's farm is failing; she has a troubled relationship with her emotionally disturbed mother, who is obsessed with the oncoming Y2K apocalypse; and her parents are making plans to send her special-needs sister away. Alice defies her family by befriending and becoming romantically involved with Nickson Vang, a Hmong immigrant who has recently moved to the area. A large part of the novel depicts Alice's thoughts and perceptions; rather than being driven by action and dialogue, it is an introspective, contemplative exploration of the impact of socioeconomic and political change; cultures in conflict; and the concepts of faith, sin, and guilt. The narrative is that of an adult looking back at adolescence, viewing it through the hindsight of adult sensibilities. Heynen's novel provides a unique glimpse into a way of life that has rarely been explored in literature. However, although the narrative revolves around a teen protagonist, this title will probably be of very limited interest to teens and would have better circulation in adult collections.-Francesca Burgess, Brooklyn Public Library, NY

    Copyright 2012 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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Jim Heynen
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