It may be a cliche to say that you laughed so hard you cried, except that I did while reading this book. Several times. Greene tells the story of howIt may be a cliche to say that you laughed so hard you cried, except that I did while reading this book. Several times. Greene tells the story of how her family created itself with such wonderful humor that you can't help but fall in love with them all.
Of course, a book like this can't be all sunshine and smiles, and Greene doesn't pull her punches when relating stories of family tribulation. Nor does she leave us in any doubt that children around the world face horrifying poverty and hunger every day.
If this book has a flaw, it's that it's a little uneven. In the midst of discussing the process of adopting one child, the narrative jumps back to relate an anecdote involving an older child, or Green's own childhood. These leaps never detract from the overall story, but the transitions are sometimes jarring.
Another cliche: this book is both hysterical and heartbreaking. But mostly it is about how family bonds are about love and effort more than blood....more
When reading this book, one must keep some distance between oneself and the narrative, to not be overwhelmed by the horrors that are described. FortunWhen reading this book, one must keep some distance between oneself and the narrative, to not be overwhelmed by the horrors that are described. Fortunately, the writing style helps the reader maintain this distance. Writing in a very matter of fact style, perhaps even too matter of factly, Beah describes his efforts to avoid getting pulled into the civil war in Sierra Leone and his actions when he is eventually "recruited" to join the army.
The bulk of this book is quite bleak, by necessity. But Beah shows a talent for story-telling throughout, especially in the more hopeful sections of the book, when he describes his life before the civil war struck his village and after his "rehabilitation"....more
While reading this book, one is forced to wonder how much it is meant to be a commentary on the current situation in the Middle East. And indeed, theWhile reading this book, one is forced to wonder how much it is meant to be a commentary on the current situation in the Middle East. And indeed, the political and historical expositions can be a little heavy-handed. And yet I found these easy to forgive, due mainly to the engaging voice of Agnes, our narrator. She has a very fresh and conversational tone that allows the reader to take in the information without feeling bashed over the head with it. And, I have to say, a lot of the description of how the Middle East was divvied up after WWI was very interesting in light of what's happened since in that region.
Most of the book is just good narrative. Agnes tells us her story as though we were sitting down over a cup of tea, and her conversational tone draws the reader in right away. Her tales of meeting Winston Churchill, T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia), and the others at the Cairo Peace Conference are wonderfully told, and her descriptions of Egypt, Jerusalem, and the other places she visits make them come alive. And of course, the way she tells us about her beloved dachshund Rosie are simply delightful!
I've been a big fan of Mary Doria Russell's books since I discovered them, and this one did not let me down. ...more