This was a collection of short stories that was like nothing I'd ever read before. I'm still processing them, as I'm sure I will for time to come. Wha...moreThis was a collection of short stories that was like nothing I'd ever read before. I'm still processing them, as I'm sure I will for time to come. What if the tower of Babel was real, and humans did reach all the way to heaven? What would they find when they broke through into heaven? The answer was surprising and elegant, but as satisfying as the ending was, the journey up the tower was worth the price of admission as well, with the descriptions of the tower, building it, and how the people lived there. This is how I found each of the short stories. The theme gave me more than enough to think about, but the way each story unfolded itself was beautiful. Some of the stories even impacted me in surprising ways, with tears or a deepened understanding of love.
I can't recommend this collection highly enough.(less)
This is my mom's book. She let me borrow it about 20 years ago - around the same time we moved out of Alaska. For about the past 10 years or so, she h...moreThis is my mom's book. She let me borrow it about 20 years ago - around the same time we moved out of Alaska. For about the past 10 years or so, she has been asking for it back, so it was time to read it.
I loved this book. I grew up in Alaska, so I was not blown away by the descriptions of the cold weather, deep snow, or dark winter. Those were facts of life. I've even ridden in dogsleds before. So instead I read those passages with a bit of nostalgia. Of course, I lived there in the 70s and 80s and I lived in Fairbanks so I had quite a bit more comforts!
But this book is more than a story about the hardships of 1920s Alaska. When Anne Hobbs moved to Alaska, she not only encountered harsh winters and a very different way of life, but also prejudice and racism against the Native Alaskan people and anyone who had any native blood. This would not stand for Anne. She, being part native American herself, felt a deep compassion for all people, and couldn't see how the Athabaskans should be treated any differently than the whites.
In doing this, she risked everything. The other settlers in the town disagreed with her decisions and made life difficult for her. She risked losing the man she loved, the children she loved, her job and future teaching, and so on.
It is an adventure story with the harsh Alaskan frontier has a backdrop - not only cold weather, but dramatic dog sled races. And it is a love story.(less)
I read this book in about an hour or two. This is the first Albom book I've read, but from what I understand, it seems his standard fair. A story abou...moreI read this book in about an hour or two. This is the first Albom book I've read, but from what I understand, it seems his standard fair. A story about the importance of family and love, and appreciation for what we have on this earth. Overly sentimental, but it does the trick and pulls out a few tears. A quick read.(less)
I'm working my way through the Wideacre trilogy. The second book continues the themes of the first one and is written in the same style. Pagan gods, s...moreI'm working my way through the Wideacre trilogy. The second book continues the themes of the first one and is written in the same style. Pagan gods, seeing the future, and other phenomenon repeat throughout the book. It is dark and full of suspense.
But it also tells a very modern story, despite its eighteenth century setting. The main character deals with a changing economy, changing way of doing business, she deals with romance, and she deals with cruel emotional and physical abuse. While the characters telling of the events are very clear and in our modern society there is no question that crimes were committed, the way the world worked at that time was not entirely favorable to women like the main character.
Potential Wideace (book 1) spoilers below.
Beatrice, the main character from the first book, loved the land and the people on the land, and all was good. The people loved her back and the land produced excellent harvests. But when Beatrice turned her back on the land and people living on it, in favor of securing her place on it in the future, it all turned on her. At the end of Wideacre, she left Wideacre to her 2 heirs - a son and daughter, both products of a secret incestuous relationship.
Now, the 2 children are grown and unaware of their close blood relationship to each other. The qualities of Beatrice have been split in two. Beatrice loved the land and loved the villages, so does Julia. But Beatrice also wanted Wideacre for herself, no matter what the cost, as does Richard. Beatrice treated villagers with compassion, but she did despicable things to the people who stood in her way. Beatrice was full of contradiction, but her two heirs have become the good vs evil that was inside of her. It may not be realistic, but it worked to tell this story.
The book was a good view into late 18th century manor life in the context of the changing economic world at that time. It also had some romance in it, which I enjoyed. But mostly it is a gothic tale of the lengths an evil person will go to hang on to the idea he is better than the rest and the lengths a truly good person will go to prevent that evil and provide for the people she loves.(less)
For as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated with Africa. Someday I'll visit, but for now I read books. This one really brought South Africa of...moreFor as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated with Africa. Someday I'll visit, but for now I read books. This one really brought South Africa of the 1940s alive for me. The descriptions of the land were so real and provided a setting for the tragic events that occur in the book. It is written so beautifully, in a way that I would describe as lyrical and evocative of what I imagine Zulu sentence structure is like. Best of all, underneath the excellent writing is a story with real substance and meaning.
This book address pre-apartheid South Africa and shows the issues from both sides. The native people who's traditional tribal life has been torn apart, the land that is failing to produce quality crops, the white people, some of them innocent and actively working to improve things for the native peoples are still victims of terrible crimes.
But ultimately, this is about forgiveness. Two fathers brought together by coincidence and tragedy come to understand each other and help each other, and maybe that is just what is needing when people are fighting. This book is a lesson for all of us.(less)
I've never read Jodi Picoult before, and now having read this book, I can see why people love her: the book is very engaging and the topic is compelli...moreI've never read Jodi Picoult before, and now having read this book, I can see why people love her: the book is very engaging and the topic is compelling. But I understand why people don't like her: the shifting viewpoints was difficult at times, some of the details in the book didn't drive the plot forward, and and the use of metaphors and coincidences was rather heavy-handed.
The plot of the story is a 32 year old woman discovers that she was kidnapped by her father as a toddler so she would not grow up around her alcoholic and neglectful mother. The truth comes to light and over the course of the trial and unfolding of related events, the readers decide for themselves - was the father right in kidnapping her? The book leads in one direction, but even after the book was over, I was still left pondering the various possible outcomes and which was the "right" one.(less)