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review 2017-06-18 21:57
A Small Revolution
A Small Revolution - Jimin Han A Small Revolution - Jimin Han

This is a pleasant surprise. It's a Kindle First book I got a few months ago, along with the audio upgrade, that had so much more to it than I expected. At it's core the story is about four college girls who are held captive by a guy with a gun for reasons that blur between the personal and the political. But this isn't about some rejected college student who wants to take out his anger by showing power, it's more of a hostages make people listen situation.

Yoona is the protagonist and I loved the way she tells the story to Jaesung. It's not done in a way that makes it sound like she is relaying it to him later and that everything is fine. She talks to him as if he is her conscience. Jaesung is another character who is not in the room with them but he is still a part of it. You know from the beginning that Jaesung has something to do with why Lloyd, the gunman, has these girls in this room at gunpoint.

I appreciated Yoona, Jaesung, and Lloyd as characters, as would-be or possible revolutionaries. I loved the niavete they possess and the way each works through that in their own way and the way the interference, or not, of parents rang true to life for me. Some are very involved, others not so much or not at all. I couldn't help but feel for Yoona, not just in that room but as other events became known. Then there's Lloyd's unraveling, what brought him to the place, what motivates his conversations with the negotiator and I loved the negotiator. Much of the book isn't even about the room they are in but the way they all came to be there and these are the scenes that surprised me most.

I enjoyed the story embodied a part of American life by being about people who were the first or second generation to be born in the US, by being about people who still have ties to the land of their parents. I appreciated it as a story about Korean-Americans, which I feel is a group we don't hear much about, but also about Korea and a dorm room in the US. The story elements fit together beautifully and the only thing I would wish to change about it was a little more denouement.

Also, I really love this cover. Its perfectly captures the feel and tone of the story without giving anything away. Every time I see the cover since finishing the book, I get a little wistful about the story and all the characters and everything they wanted to do and everything they wanted to fix about the world.

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review 2017-01-12 02:45
The God of Small Things
The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy

I wasn't sure what to expect other than everyone raves about this author and I had to sit with it all a while to decide what I really felt about it. It's a powerful book and a little hard to read sometimes but also strangely beautiful. Trigger: death of a child. It's right in the first chapter that the girl dies at 9 years old, so I don't really consider it a spoiler. I know this isn't as common a trigger as say rape, but it's one of mine. Not everyone can stomach dead children in their pleasure reading. This is my first Read Harder 2017 book, it was the debut novel for Arundhati Roy. The writing is so beautiful that I was sucked in before I even knew what was going on. It was the way she described the twins right in the first five minutes of the audio. I did listen to it, which I don't recommend. The story shifts in time and the audio doesn't give good markers when the shift is happening. The other problem is that my copy (which came from the library and will make it into the hands of others so that's why this is really a problem) skipped sometimes. It was annoying but didn't make me not want to continue, just like when the deaths were mentioned there in the first five minutes of the 6+ hours of audio. The reader, Sarita Choudhury, did a wonderful job. Since she is an established actress, though I didn't recognize her by name only face when I looked her up, one could hardly have expected less. The story itself is very uncomfortable to listen to but that doesn't lessen the experience. Sometimes we read difficult stories and it was especially trying as this was my audiobook while my print one was Burger’s Daughter, which is just as difficult for different reasons (it's about the antiapartheid movement in South Africa). The thing about it is that the story seems true to life. The moments come together in unexpected ways that mark the difference between punishment for one's actions and consequences for one's actions. Consequences can be so much harder because they can be so unexpected and so harsh sometimes. This is a book of consequences. As from the Goodreads blurb above from the book page, it's consequences for tampering with the love laws. I really loved the way the deliver included the "love laws". We see so much of this in lots of stories but it's not quite worded this way. There are consequences and sometimes they are things that characters can just deal with, and sometimes not tampering brings about the plot (looking at you, Wuthering Heights). The jumps in time aren't bad once I started to get a better feel for the rhythm, but I feel like I would have had some marker or something that would have suggested the shift and that would have made for an easier read. As it was, they made perfect sense within the story as it unraveled and we got to know the world everyone was living in. It may have just been backstory woven in as well, but the queues just weren't that obvious for me and I sometimes had to back up the story to figure out what I had missed. The characters were amazing, and not in that they're-all-good-people kind of way but more in the Gatsby way. No one is completely a good person (okay, I feel like one is but I won't tell you who). They are just people looking out for their interests individually and what the family does for them. Okay, the family part probably sounds harsh, but this is a complicated family that it doesn't seem like anyone wants to be a part of, so everyone is scrambling for some way to be themselves but can't do that on their own. You might think that they would work together because everyone gets further that way, but no. Because it's a true to life family and there is a lot of baggage here. Most of the baggage gets explained in the beginning though, which is part of how the back and forth in time or backstory confused me in the beginning. Everyone is at least a little broken and it all contributes to how they broke the love laws and why and how much. The pace is hard to describe because of the shifting time line and constant presence of backstory to different things. Don't get me wrong, all the backstory was 100% necessary and it moved in a fluid way. I think it's really the flow that messed me up sometimes because we would be with 30 year old Rahel and then young Rahel and wasn't sure where it happened. It moves along nicely, even though you know from the beginning where it's going. Except that it doesn't stop there and that was the point that I found especially horrifying and beautiful at the same time. I'm definitely going to continue reading Roy. Her style is just gorgeous. Seeing just the title of some of her other stories and how well this one read and having read some winners alongside her and recently, I wouldn't be surprised to find her on the Nobel Laureate list one day. As with the novels of those who have won, this was hard to read sometimes and harder to continue because of the pain it caused, but totally worth it.

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review 2016-12-12 19:24
Another Brooklyn
Another Brooklyn: A Novel - Jacqueline Woodson

The story is good, but it's really the writing that makes it magnificent.

The book is written in a wistful sort of way and kind of rambles sometimes and keeps the reader in that feeling of being in her stream of consciousness. Its poetic in the way that it discusses some of the harder topics, like the denial we can experience in childhood about what's going on in the world or that hides truths we can't handle yet. I loved the way her mind wandered sometimes from one thing to another and how it effected the way that she remembered things.

Most of all, I love that it was a true story of the lives of girls. Each girl is different, but they all go through those things that all girls go through. They deal with those things that we deal with and Woodson uses that poetic style to include these things without dwelling on them or having to describe them in unnecessary detail. Her writing lets you really feel the story in a way that is unusual. I appreciate writing in a way that walks the reading through that feeling of things we remember rather than life as it happens. I also enjoyed this way of writing with The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness.

The path of each girl wasn't unexpected, though I didn't know which would go which way and there were several others to choose from. This is just the way of things, down to the ways they drifted together and apart. This will be one of those books that could easily be used to describe the way of life at the time it is set. I wouldn't even say specifically for the place that it was set because the lives of the girls are relatable to just about every group of girls I've ever known. It's late 20th century America in the city. There are some truths that may keep it out of high school classrooms, but I could easily see it brought into the college American Literature class. I would certainly use it. This and her memoir written in poetry, Brown Girl Dreaming.

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review 2016-10-01 08:54
The Black Woman Lives
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration - Isabel Wilkerson

I did not want this book to end. For twenty hours I was just listening and enjoying the stories and then I noticed it was almost over. Sadness. 

 

You should definitely read this.

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review 2016-09-05 17:54
I was unsure, petrified...
The Bluest Eye - Toni Morrison

...and then the last two pages happened. At first I was terribly disappointed—because obviously this unnecessary explanation of the brilliance before had been tacked on specially for thick white people like me—but no. Those last paragraphs were there to deliver the final punch in the last five sentences.

 

I could say the last two, but the context matters for thick white people like me.

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