Friday, May 28, 2010

POC Book #3: Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

Another book from my list that is not written by a person of color, although the protagonist is African American. Still, it was a great book and "easy" enough that I am ready to return to adult fiction (or nonfiction) for my next POC book.

Chains Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Very excellent.

Follows Isabel, a young slave girl, and her sister Ruth, from their home in Rhode Island just after the death of their mistress to New York City as the American Revolution is in the process of breaking out. Unashamedly shows the whims to which slaves were subjected, whether owned by rebels or Tories.

I liked Isabel, especially her concern for Ruth and her loyalty to those who were friendly to her, even when that loyalty involved risk to herself.

I enjoy historical novels, especially those aimed at young people, that talk about the "truth behind the story" at the end, which this one did, but I would have been interested to hear more about views on epilepsy at the time (Ruth seems to have this condition).

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Monday, May 10, 2010

POC Challenge Book #2.5: All Aunt Hagar's Children by Edward P. Jones

I realize that I haven't posted any book reviews in over a month, and definitely not a POC book. I really have been reading, but I gave up on the POC book I was currently working on (and it sure felt like work!). Still, I wanted to post what I thought of it so far. For the next POC book, I'm going to read one of the children's/YA books on my list (Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson), which should get me over my current reading hump.

All Aunt Hagar's Children: Stories All Aunt Hagar's Children: Stories by Edward P. Jones

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I want to go ahead and review this so I can post it, even though I'm not done--and won't be for awhile.

I just don't like this collection of stories very much. I feel bad about this, because it has gotten rave reviews and won awards, but it just doesn't appeal to me.

I got through 5 and 1/2 of the 14 stories, and of those, the one I've only read half of is the one I liked the best (it was just so depressing that I didn't finish it). ALL of the stories have been depressing, and in most of them, I didn't like the characters very much. Finally, there is much more emphasis on characterization and description than on plot, and I still really like plot. I like characterization, but I have to like the characters to appreciate good characterization (what can I say, I have low brow tastes). Sigh.

I don't intend to give up on this book. It's still on my nightstand. However, I have found that pregnancy makes me even less tolerant of depressing books than I normally am, so I think I need to wait until the new baby arrives to try to finish.

Finally, one note about my use of the word "depressing." I don't necessarily mean books where bad things happen or that don't end happily (although I will admit to being partial to happy endings). I know that in real life, bad things happen and endings are not always happy, and it makes sense that literature often reflects this. However, that doesn't mean that people/characters can't and don't rise above the awful-ness that life often throws at them, and I just didn't feel like any of these characters did.

I'll revisit my opinion when I revisit the book.

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