I had initially gotten this out of the library and have been trying to pick it up and trudge through it, but it never seemed to fully grasp me to wantI had initially gotten this out of the library and have been trying to pick it up and trudge through it, but it never seemed to fully grasp me to want to continue. I had it well past the final renewal grace period (10 days after the last renew option) before I just chose to return it. May revisit the book again over the summer when I have more time to designate towards it. ...more
I feel like this could be a children's companion to To Kill a Mockingbird. As an adult whom "read" this book as an audio, I felt that the story line wI feel like this could be a children's companion to To Kill a Mockingbird. As an adult whom "read" this book as an audio, I felt that the story line was far too scattered including letters, newspaper articles, and diviner stories. It was hard to keep track of what portion I was actually listening too, which I'm sure that would distract younger readers more. While the story is interesting, I'm not really sure I like how Vanderpool chose to present it...more
I had mainly gotten this book because it was supposedly banned in China. I could understand why as it prods ever so slightly in a satirical way at theI had mainly gotten this book because it was supposedly banned in China. I could understand why as it prods ever so slightly in a satirical way at the complexities of officer life during the cultural revolution. I felt much of the story was lost in subtext translation. Interesting read, better read for those who have spent a chunk of time properly studying the complexities of Chinese current events or have spent long periods of time in China....more
I ended up bailing on this book, mostly because I didn't have enough interest in continuing to read. I really feel that Mackey really missed the markI ended up bailing on this book, mostly because I didn't have enough interest in continuing to read. I really feel that Mackey really missed the mark on a lot of things with this book.
Mackey I think was really trying to appeal to a pleathora of different young readers, which made the book far too scattered. There was a mix of historical fiction, fantasy, and pacific northwest. That being said I think she fell short. There were so many things that she could have picked up on in each of these categories, but I feel like she was far too scattered in approaching any of these subjects. If she had chosen one topic, stuck with it and full steamed ahead with much of the information with it, I think the book would have held my interest far more.
I really feel like she did a dis-service to the pacific northwest region in this regard as well. As a former scientist writing a book, why is she inventing trees and things that kill trees when there's so much bio-diversity in the pacific northwest? While I understand that there is an appeal to not ruin the beauty of the current trees, however, if we want to start instilling some overall desire to want to improve or protect our forests, I think she lost out on a valuable teacheable moment here. Even if she felt the diseases would be cooler if she had invented them, there are just so many majestic things going on with the trees that are there. What's the appeal of inventing things to benefit your story when there is already so much to go on in that area? On the same note, Why did she also have to create her own folklore for this region as well? There is so much going on with the First Nations tribes, I feel like these would have been far more interesting to add to her stories. In that respect, she may have felt that she could not do right by the First Nations people and their stories, there's just so much there I think she lost out on. There's the whole lumberjack culture that she hints at as well, in the beginning and then digresses. I'm not suggesting that she only fictionalize reality of that region, I just don't think a few pages in a chapter of a variety of things made for a good book, or really a readable one. Science and native peoples don't have to be boring, and if you are going to take advantage of a certain setting, it's worth the extra investment of time to properly do the research. I can understand why people would like this book, but between the predictable story lines, a female protagonist she wants to be strong who really isn't, and overly fictionalized concepts, it just didn't do it for me....more
I still seem to have issues finding a goodreads reccomends book that I thoroughly enjoy. I found the stories typically at the end of the chapters to bI still seem to have issues finding a goodreads reccomends book that I thoroughly enjoy. I found the stories typically at the end of the chapters to be the driving force for me in this book. When I lost interest in the book and the driving concepts of the book, I began just reading the segments of the folklore at the end of the chapters. I found that the story seemed to have far more potential and lost itself about 2/3's of the way through. I really enjoyed the rug and market scenes, but think that she was really trying to please far too many readers with the book, in how the story develops....more
2.5 stars. While I found some of the prose a beautiful read, overall I found it a bit of a trudgery to get through. While I feel to a certain extent,2.5 stars. While I found some of the prose a beautiful read, overall I found it a bit of a trudgery to get through. While I feel to a certain extent, Echlin was trying to write something more beautifully human about some horrible events in history, I felt she really lost out on this aspect. I don't know if this is due to the fact that I really don't think that Anna changed much over the timespan in the book. There was hinting at the events in history, and even a return to Cambodia due to family, but there was never much of a context given on any of the particulars of this horrible time in history. It just floats wanting to touch on so many different genres without really picking one and doing it well. Lyrical writing can only masque your lack of direction or desire for your story so much. While most of the book is written in first and second person, I felt in this case it really did hinder on the development.
At times I felt that she really almost wanted to stylistically write this as a journal, or a letter, but it read somewhere between a young woman's thought process somewhere between journal or letter and as if she was visiting the lover in the morgue or hospital and reflecting back on nearly 2 decades of events that don't seem to have much in common aside from it's the girl's life. While she started off as a teenager in the book, I can attribute some of the lack of empathy to that, but there is little to no empathy towards anybody but the man she loves. While I know personally I spent time pining for people, but certainly not to the extent of 20 years, nor did I find myself so hung up on tracking them down after a certain point. Her lover returns to Cambodia, but I never really felt that Echilin really touched on his family and any atrocities that happened to them. He kept alluding that he would tell her later. It's almost like Echilin dangles bait in front of a mouse, pulls away, and then wonders why the mouse bites her....more
I wanted to like this book. Due o to the nature of the time-frame that it was written, I think it was for the most part accurate. Much like the Good EI wanted to like this book. Due o to the nature of the time-frame that it was written, I think it was for the most part accurate. Much like the Good Earth, I think it provides valid insight, but to a degree dated. That being said, however, I seemed to have more interest in the glossary and notes at the end of the book than the actual story. I think this is partially due to the fact that it was a westerner who wrote the book that gives it's the minor holes that just seem to get under my skin. Having been a westerner that lived in China, myself, I know that there are ample things I can not fully comment on, as I did not properly experience it or have the cultural significance to understand. This I feel makes it extremely difficult, no matter the time-frame spent there, to fully understand the historical development of certain things, or to write something from the perspective of someone culturally different from you. This won't be specific to just this book, but to many.
The setting for the book, I think the town is now Chongqing. Even if it isn't I think it would've been worth her while to mention how many of the town or city names of many of the Chinese cities of change over time. Much of the dialogue language that she choose to use included words such as thou and thy. These words would have no part in any sort of translation of Chinese words even the older dialects or traditional language rather it is the western concept of wanting to include these words because of usage in the English language. Nor were these words really being used in English in the pre-cultural revolution (1920's-1930's). Well I think she was able to Sure the time-frame and set up of the daily life of this I think it would've been more beneficial had many of the information in and notes had been incorporated somewhere either into a foreword or into the story to be more effective. For being a children's book I think it to a certain extent is not really suitable for many younger readers and is more of a young adult book rather than a children's book to do context and language used in the book...more
I had to read this book for my Children's Literature Course this fall. I really wanted to like this book, but I found there to be discrepancies in theI had to read this book for my Children's Literature Course this fall. I really wanted to like this book, but I found there to be discrepancies in the story to really deter me from using in a classroom. I understand that Historical Fiction is a hard topic to approach, but my feeling if you are going to breech the field, your facts really need to be correct, especially if you would like your book to be used in a school's curriculum. While with fiction, you can take some liberties with subject matter I felt too many liberties where taken with this book.
I have yet to really figure out what time period Pam Ryan was trying to go for in the book. She alludes to many different time periods without giving any real proper depth to any one subject. She would have been better to pick one aspect of history in this time frame and stick with it. Examples, are mostly with her choosing the Great Depression she spawns off in other aspects. This makes it difficult to use in a 4th or 5th grade classroom. While I understand Elementary School is all done on multi levels reading often tying in with Social Studies, the historical aspect of this book is far too broad. The book is supposed to be set during the Great Depression, but there were illusions to unrest with the US and Mexico, much of which was during the 1840's. That's not to say that everything was solved by the Great Depression, but much of the land disputes that Ryan refers to in the beginning of the book stem from issues in the US-Mexican war in the 1840's, about 100 years before this book was supposed to be set.
While The Mexican Revolution occurred 10-20 years before the time set of the book as well, I think that Ryan doesn't properly clarify in which historical period she wanted to address. While there were issues with land and boarders, which is more of the issues with the US-Mexico wars vs. the revolution.
The other big date issue I had with the historical aspect of the book, Esperanza's Mexican family moves to California to work on farms. If this was supposed to be in the late 20's and 30's, during the Great Depression, when many of the US citizen's couldn't find work, I really don't think that Mexicans would be given work, let alone strike. While people from Oklahoma were coming and starting to threaten their jobs, Ryan again looses out on a good opportunity to touch further on a good teachable moment. Many people were out of work at this time, that I don't think many people would be willing to go on a strike let alone try and convince multiple other people to join their cause for better work conditions. Also, I don't think a young teenager would really be one of the major ringleaders of a strike.
The other period discrepancy for this book is that during the Great Depression is that California and much of the Western part of the United States where in the midst of the Dust Bowl. While the book alluded to the Dustbowl with a dust storm, the Dustbowl was significant enough that the quantity of crops that the farm they were working on would never actually occur. While I realize this book is fiction, and is meant to be used in a classroom, I find there are too many discrepancies to properly describe or correct in a 4th or 5th grade social studies class.
While I can appreciate the fact that Ryan probably wants to touch on many issues that can be talking points in a classroom, trying to bring up so many points in a 200 page book makes my head hurt and I can only imagine it being an issue for a younger reader. She has far too many points that she mentions without really developing much into any one in particular. Since she attempts to have the story take place during a single calendar year, it would have been more beneficial for her points to pick a specific year and develop historical themes from that aspect rather than picking a time period which spans 10-15 years and touch on many aspects that came up within that time frame.
While I think it does bring up some valid multicultural issues, and I like how they include Spanish, I think the book itself aside from the historical aspects would be enjoyable for young readers. I think the language has a good flow. She has some great ideas like the different aspects of measuring the passing of years, and the aspects of including family and such. I think the themes where appropriate for children. The characters seemed to have trouble changing, either too much or not enough.
While Esperanza goes from a spoiled rotten 13 year old who couldn't figure out how to sweep, to a 14 year old who worked in a vegetable packing shed and a babysitter who paid all of her mother's hospitable bills, and saved enough money to bring her grandmother from Mexico. I understand you must maintain a certain interest for children, but I feel that Ryan used up far too many fiction liberties. I don't think I would use this book in my classroom....more