I wanted to like this book so much more. I enjoyed the relatively slow build-up of the first 2/3 of the story, but the ending truly did feel rushed. TI wanted to like this book so much more. I enjoyed the relatively slow build-up of the first 2/3 of the story, but the ending truly did feel rushed. There seemed to be more action in the last couple of chapters than the rest of the book combined. It annoys me when authors do that - as if they run out of steam or an editor just forces them to hurry up and finish the thing.
Also, a couple of things bothered me that I couldn't ignore: 1. For all the detailed description of the intricacies of cane farming (which were very well done), the author glossed over all the physical labor involved in it. Besides some cursory mentions of Charley being tired, the backbreaking work felt brushed aside. Y'all, unless Charley was a serious gym rat or crossfit enthusiast, there was no way she was jumping into full days of farm labor like that without some SERIOUS muscle fatigue/barely being able to move the next day. The story would have felt more authentic to me if the difficulty of farm labor was considered more in the narrative.
2. Ralph Angel felt like an extra character. This has nothing to do with him being unlikeable. I rather enjoy villains/antiheroes when they contribute to the plot. But he seemed like more a distraction from the main story than anything else. Perhaps there could have been more tension built up between him & other family members so the ending would have more weight. But he was just sort of...there. Maybe, as an entitled bully, he was supposed to be a foil for Denton & Remy? Not sure, but I don't think the book would have suffered much without him at all. More attention could have been given to other characters instead. I wanted to get inside Denton & Miss Honey's heads more, for instance.
But overall, it's an interesting story. I appreciate all the research Baszile did. It's clear she took the subject seriously. I recommend it, even if just to have a comparison for the (very different) TV show. ...more
I'm torn between liking and loving this book. On one hand, I love how Ward gives us stories that remind me of my family in rural Texas & LouisianaI'm torn between liking and loving this book. On one hand, I love how Ward gives us stories that remind me of my family in rural Texas & Louisiana. On the other, her writing style can be a bit clunky - the number of similes on any given page can be excessive. The subject matter (teen pregnancy, poverty, parental alcoholism, etc) can be emotionally taxing, especially if you know and love people like Esch and her brothers. There are times when the plot seems to stall, and the ending seems abrupt. Ultimately, I recommend this book because Ward handles this subject matter expertly: She is not writing about this community as an outsider, which is a welcome contrast from books centered on poor Southern communities written by middle/upper class "sympathizers." ...more
While I enjoyed this book, I'm not sure it qualifies as a novel. It reads more like a collection of disjointed short stories. That isn't necessarily aWhile I enjoyed this book, I'm not sure it qualifies as a novel. It reads more like a collection of disjointed short stories. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I do wish we saw more of this family as a unit instead of numerous separate vignettes. As it stands, Hattie's children barely seem related at all. I also found some of the characters to be cliche - trifling men & long-suffering women fill these pages. I wish Mathis had challenged these tropes more, but overall, this is an interesting read. ...more