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Search tags: family-saga
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review 2018-08-25 16:01
Proud Shoes by Pauli Murray
Proud Shoes (Black Women Writers Series) - Pauli Murray,Patricia Bell-Scott

This book is a hidden gem: the biography of a mixed-race family around the time of the Civil War. It was published well before its time – in 1956 there wasn’t much interest in African-American family sagas – but it is well-written and fascinating in part because this isn’t a commonly-told story. Murray was a fascinating character in her own right – a prominent civil rights and women’s rights activist, a lawyer and finally a priest, genderqueer long before people knew what that was – but here she focuses on her family history, which is fascinating in its own right. The book is chiefly about her maternal grandfather, who grew up free in the North, joined one of the first black regiments to fight in the Civil War despite the fact that he was already going blind from an injury, and went south after the war to educate freed slaves in the face of white opposition. Murray’s grandmother’s story is quite different: she grew up a slave, though she didn’t feel like one, being the daughter of a son of the house and mostly treated as such. (Murray’s mother’s family would likely be seen as white today, though by the conventions of the time they were black no matter what they looked like.) All this is mixed in with Murray’s memories of being raised by her grandparents in the early 20th century.

 

Pauli Murray mural

Pauli Murray mural in her hometown of Durham, North Carolina

 

Overall, I really enjoyed this biography/history/memoir and found it to be absorbing reading, though somewhat slow going. It is a good story and provides a little-known perspective on a well-known time in American history; unlike many books, which approach the time period through fiction, this one is based on family stories and documents and on historical research, and is more complex and authentic for it. I am definitely interested in reading more about Murray and her family.

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text 2018-08-12 23:43
Book Haul! Audible 2 for 1 Sale
The Elementals - Michael Rowe,Michael McDowell
Blackwater: The Complete Caskey Family Saga - Michael McDowell,John Langan
The Android's Dream - John Scalzi
'Salem's Lot - Ron McLarty,Stephen King

Usually I don't find anything I especially want at the Audible sales, but I think I got 4 good ones this time. And for you Halloween Bingoers, they have a number of horror and mystery/thriller books that fit the categories. 

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photo 2018-06-23 13:17
Source: bookloverbookreviews.com/2018/06/a-place-for-us-by-fatima-farheen-mirza-book-review.html
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review 2018-06-20 03:18
Fatima Farheen Mirza's A PLACE FOR US

The first title from Sarah Jessica Parker's imprint for Hogarth

 

I am normally wary of hyped debut novels, but with comparisons made to Anthony Marra’s outstanding A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, I was eager to read Fatima Farheen Mirza’s A Place for Us.

 

Unlike many reviewers, I was not immediately absorbed by Mirza’s family narrative.  The prose itself was strikingly assured for a debut novelist but I struggled to truly engage with the characters, my personal feelings about the entrenched cultural-religious gender bias impacting their lives getting in the way.

 

Many of the characters’ behaviours/actions are frustrating to an outside observer also. But to Mirza’s credit, her attention to detail and absence of sentimentality in the presentation of the different character viewpoints soon had me seeing past those differences. It is with the nuances of behaviour explored, the family dynamics, and the gravity and impact of what is often left unsaid that I engaged. Continue reading >>

Source: bookloverbookreviews.com/2018/06/a-place-for-us-by-fatima-farheen-mirza-book-review.html
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review 2018-03-15 17:29
Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee
Pachinko - Min Jin Lee

It took me almost four months to read Pachinko. As I read, I began wondering about my slow pace. My fall semesters are busier, yes, but I still manage to finish most books in what's a timely manner for me. It certainly wasn't because I found the book hard to read in terms of comprehension or engagement. As I got closer to the end, I realized: it was because I was so invested in the characters and storytelling I had to take time to process the intense feelings the novel evoked. There are also regular gaps in time that take place between chapters where characters' situations change significantly; I needed mental space before diving into the story again. I can't think of another novel that required this sort of reading from me.

 

In addition to Rushdie's The Moor's Last Sigh, Pachinko has served to establish that "family sagas" can engage me, or at least when another culture is involved. Through the family portrayed here, I learned more about Korea, but it never feels like a history lesson. Everything comes from the characters. The novel also provokes thought about national and racial identity.

 

There were moments I dreaded, as with the return of a less sympathetic character, though not in a way that made me dislike the novel or its author. There were moments that shocked me to the point of gasping. There are many scenes that easily and vividly come to mind when I recall my reading, which I finished more than a month ago.

 

I would love to teach this novel. I have the feeling I may reread it some day, regardless. For me, that's a rarity, a compliment, and a sign of deep gratitude. 

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