I had the opportunity to see Sarah Vowell in Cedar Rapids as a part of the Outloud! Author Series sponsored by the Metro Library Network. I was familiI had the opportunity to see Sarah Vowell in Cedar Rapids as a part of the Outloud! Author Series sponsored by the Metro Library Network. I was familiar with Ms. Vowell from her appearances on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. After her reading and Q & A session with the attendees, I purchased two of her books, Assassination Vacation and Unfamiliar Fishes. I decided to tackle Assassination Vacation first as I have had some weird fixation with both the Lincoln and Kennedy assassinations since 10th grade.Ms. Vowell has a unique style of writing American History. For Assassination Vacation, she travels around the country visiting well known and not so well known locales connected with the assassinations of 3 early U.S. presidents, Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley. She doesn't just visit site connected to the presidents, but also those connected to the men that fired the gun. This approach provides a unique, somewhat well-rounded picture of the victim and perpetrator.I say "somewhat well-rounded" because Ms. Vowell is well known for her commentary on current American politics which she deftly weaves into the narrative of the book. Some might say this taints the overall neutral perspective that some might be seeking in a non-fiction novel. Personally, history cannot be viewed in a vacuum and connecting historical events to current events, for me, brings old dusty stories back to life.Overall, I give Assassination Vacation a thumbs up. If you like your American History with a touch of well-known and obscure facts with a side of satire and sarcasm, then you should check it out.
Before I dive into my review, I wanted to share a little bit about the Linn Area Reads program. Founded in 2003, the project is sponsored by the Metro Library Network and Barnes & Noble. A book is selected each spring that will encourage discussion among the community. You can learn more about the project and the events associated with this year's selection on their website.
By adding Running Away to Home to my to-read list once the selection was made, I realized I might set a record for the number of non-fiction books I'll read this year. I normally stick to fiction as many times I find non-fiction dense, boring and a little too real. Within the first few pages of the Running Away to Home I was sucked in and before I knew it an hour and half had passed along with about 80 pages. My cats were milling around my reading chair meowing at me because it was past my bedtime. This book had me hooked.
Wilson does a great job of setting the scene for her family's decision to move to Croatia and keeping the story moving through the ups and downs of such a dramatic decision. You see the outcome of the decision for each member of the family as the story progresses. For me, it was very easy to identify with her and her husband and their goal of finding family (past and present) and finding themselves. I could see myself and my family in Jennifer's and as the story progressed, I became of bit jealous of her journey and her tenacity. I now have a renewed interest in tracing my maternal roots.
Running Away to Home is a quick read. It's a memoir of self discovery and family. I think many readers will be able to identify with Jennifer's journey to Croatia and what she discovers there. Oh, and there are family recipes at the end of the book! Running Away to Home gets a thumbs up.
Probably a better read if you have seen more of episodes of Doctor Who prior to the recent reboot. Towards the end, I skipped many of the essays aboutProbably a better read if you have seen more of episodes of Doctor Who prior to the recent reboot. Towards the end, I skipped many of the essays about the seasons prior to the reboot....more