Friday, September 30, 2011
I enjoyed the unusual plot and three-dimensional characters who had some surpising tastes. A few characters from Carlyle's other books, such as "Never Deceive a Duke," play minor roles, and I always enjoy that. This was another lovely and exciting story with a terrible title. 448 pages.
What a superbly written book! The fact that it was immensely readable and interesting to me as well made this one of the highlights of my recent reads.
The story follows Bethia, a young girl growing up in the 1660’s on the island that is now known at Martha’s Vineyard. Bethia befriends a boy from the local Wampanoag tribe, a friendship that they must both keep secret, especially after the boy’s tribe is almost eliminated by sickness and the boy comes to live with her family so that he might be converted to Christianity and educated in the classics by Bethia’s minister father. The boy, Caleb, later moves to Cambridge and attends university, and we follow both Caleb and Bethia as she moves there as well, working as a servant and scullery maid and then facing the limited options available to women at that time.
This story is loosely based on the real Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, who was the first Native American to graduate from Harvard. I loved the historically accurate details, the plotline, the beautiful prose - so, so good.
What to say about this book? It’s a memoir that read to me more like a teenager was given a homework assignment to write individual essays about turning points in her life. That being said, I liked this tremendously as well – the author was, in fact, only 22 when she wrote it and there were shining moments of sharp wit poking out at times. I found myself forgiving the few cliché turns of phrase and immature story development because the heart of this story is a sweet tale of a love of literature shared between a parent and child. The author’s father read aloud to her every night from the time the Ozma was nine until her first day of college. Through divorce, dating, and deaths in the family, they managed it every night, which I found inspiring. This book is also a battle cry for librarianship and the art of reading aloud to children, as the author’s father (an elementary school librarian) retired before wanting to due to his district’s insistence that he stop reading aloud during the children’s library time. The author has since been touring (she spoke at the 2011 ALA conference) and promoting children’s literacy – best of luck to you, Alice Ozma!
The final book – so dark and depressing! This one is, at its core, a war story, and while I found myself getting tired with having to drudge through so much death and destruction, I understood and appreciated it as well. I still liked the characters, and I flew through the pages, desperate to know how everything got resolved. It was a satisfying conclusion to me – bitter and sad in some aspects, as befits a war story, but also sweet and hopeful.
The second book in the series, and it was just as enthralling to me as the first. I remember telling a cousin of mine about this book while I was in the middle of it, and I heard myself tell her “I just don’t know how she’s going to get out of this scrape!” and then felt myself blush right after it. I was so involved and fangirl-ish during the reading that I couldn’t help but be dorky and gush about the experience.
I gave in. I’d read about the books, heard people talk about the books, and thought vaguely about starting them. The more I read about the movie that is being produced starring Jennifer Lawrence (of Winter’s Bone fame) the more interested I was in picking up the book. So I put myself on a waiting list for the book at the public library…and I think I was on the waiting list longer than the total time it took me to finish the entire series of three books. So engaging, so fast-paced – it’s been a long time since I just HAD to know what happened next in a book. This is one of those books that I read late into the night, telling myself ‘just one more chapter’ and reading three more before my eyes refused to stay open. Katniss, Peeta, Gale, Haymitch….all of them were the center of my world while I was reading.
Loved it. And am fine with admitting it. Is it the best-written book I read this summer? No. Was I obsessed with the story anyway? Absolutely.
Great television show, so-so book. I’ve watched the entire Dexter series, and though it took me a while to warm up to the show in the first season, I was addicted once that first season’s story arc really started to hit its stride.
I might have been more impressed by the originality of the plotline for the book if I didn’t already know all the punchlines from the show – yes, Dexter is a serial killer, yes, he’s the protagonist, yes, he outsmarts the crime unit at the police station where he works as a blood-spatter specialist, and yes, some deep dark event early in Dexter’s life, before he was picked up and raised by Harry, his supercop foster father, caused him to have to kill and caused Harry to create a neat monster, one that only kills the really, really bad guys that the police can’t catch or juries can’t convict.
I wanted the book to have the same sleekness, humor, wit, and controlled chaos of the show. It just felt lacking.