Having recently read Black Water Rising, I was happy to encounter Jay Porter and friends once again. Pleasantville takes place fifteen years after theHaving recently read Black Water Rising, I was happy to encounter Jay Porter and friends once again. Pleasantville takes place fifteen years after the first book, during the mid-90s in Houston. Though this book is also steeped in politics and power struggles and big money and racial tension, I found the plot lacked some of the energy of the first. I would consider Black Water Rising to be a thriller while Pleasantville is a whodunit.
I was reading Pleasantville at the same time as Finders Keepersby Stephen King. Both books pick up with a cast of characters several years after their first appearance, filling in the events readers missed between books, and then thrusting everyone into a new crime. I haven’t read many series for adults, so it’s interesting to compare the two authors’ techniques of advancing time and introducing new antagonists. I felt badly for Jay Porter who has had some rough years since we last saw him. Listening to the story didn’t help me with following the references to big cases that happened before this book. I wish I’d read it! The characters feel solid, and I’d like to spend more time in close proximity to their story. ...more
I'm finding it hard to articulate my feelings about this book. It's horrible and beautiful at the same time. Jesmyn Ward is a stunning wordsmith, presI'm finding it hard to articulate my feelings about this book. It's horrible and beautiful at the same time. Jesmyn Ward is a stunning wordsmith, presenting her memories of growing up in rural Mississippi with clarity and realness while conveying tragic loss of life and debilitating circumstances without self-pity but sorrow and anger. By telling the stories of her family and friends, Ward also raises essential questions about race and racism, gender norms and gendered racism, poverty and privilege. Above all, the profiles of the men who died too young show how all these elements have combined to chain young, poor, Black men from the South to low expectations and a struggle to survive and succeed. Ward's talent for telling these stories and silent invitation for readers to question their prejudices is amazing for its candor and the absence of a victim mentality. I'm really not expressing this well, but my point is that these stories are hard and sad and topics of race and class make everyone feel uncomfortable -- and yet Men We Reaped feels so accessible. I'd like to think those not raised in the South could identify with everything in the book as well, but I'm unable to tell. I grew up in south Alabama at the same time Ward was attending similar schools in southern Mississippi. Her adventures in the woods and on the front lawn paralleled my own, and yet our lives were so very different. Ward's own opportunities through education highlight the discrepancy between lower and middle class possibilities for the future. And to cap all this awesome off is her expression of grief and the impossibility of ever really overcoming loss. Highly recommended since she says all this and more much better than I ever could. ...more
I love how Tom Robbins sees and describes the world, his hilarious character depictions, and the way he strings together incidents and brings up earliI love how Tom Robbins sees and describes the world, his hilarious character depictions, and the way he strings together incidents and brings up earlier jokes in cheeky asides. His memoir-esque Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life was as entertaining as I'd hoped and then some if only for the inclusion of Appalacian grannies and RVA debauchery in the Fan <3 I love when authors can capture the charm of places I love in a way I'm completely incapable of doing myself. I immediately picked up Skinny Legs and All, because I need all the Robbins all the time. ...more
Wow! A memoir told through poems, Brown Girl Dreaming can easily be read by middle grade to high school students in conjunction with so many units ofWow! A memoir told through poems, Brown Girl Dreaming can easily be read by middle grade to high school students in conjunction with so many units of study – autobiography, African-American Civil Rights, American geography and regional differences, urban/rural comparisons, developing artistic talent, and fostering professional ambitions. Though the poems could stand alone and be appreciated individually, the collection progresses smoothly as Woodson draws on her vivid childhood memories and summons the voices of her relatives. I found myself jealous of someone who was so conscious at such a young age as to what she wanted to do with her life. At the same time, I am so thankful for the way she uses her gift of storytelling to inspire young readers. Don’t be discouraged from reading the book if you aren’t into poetry, because the story almost reads as prose, albeit descriptive and lyrical prose. Lovely, lovely stuff, so lovely I can’t write a review to do it justice. ...more
I enjoyed The Help just as much the second time around. Three different voice actors read the chapters by Minnie, Abilene, and Skeeter with the fabuloI enjoyed The Help just as much the second time around. Three different voice actors read the chapters by Minnie, Abilene, and Skeeter with the fabulous Octavia Spencer reprising her role as Minnie. I listened to the audiobook while doing work around the house which left me feeling a strange connection to all the previous generations of housewives. During my first reading of the book, I'd only noticed the racism, inequality, and national civil rights events of the 60s. This time I saw how all of the women were stuck in roles forced on them by the patriarchal society of the day, though the white women were unarguably in positions of great privilege. I'm reminded of how far the nation has come in regard to racial and gender equality but frustrated there is still so far to go. Geez, I love women <3 ...more
While I enjoyed the Southern-ness of this book, the whole forbidden romance thing was a bit too Twilighty for me. I find romance from a young adult peWhile I enjoyed the Southern-ness of this book, the whole forbidden romance thing was a bit too Twilighty for me. I find romance from a young adult perspective difficult to enjoy/endure when one has left the realm of high anxiety early adolescence. Regardless, here's to mixing witchcraft and Confederate lore! I would check out the next book if I found a cheap copy of it. ...more
Hmm...I really enjoyed reading this book as an adult. However, I'm unsure if the disturbing content is eventually balanced out by the thought-provokinHmm...I really enjoyed reading this book as an adult. However, I'm unsure if the disturbing content is eventually balanced out by the thought-provoking content to make it worthy of donating to my small school's small library.
When there are less than a dozen books for high school students, of course each book gets a fair amount of attention and consideration. If we had a big library, I could sneak in Where Things Come Back and trust it would be discovered by the right audience. Instead, I think of each potential reader and wager this book detailing death, disappearances, betrayal, promiscuity, small town boredom, and angels procreating with humans will only cause my sheltered, big city japanese students much confusion and angst. However, I don't want to decide for my students what might or might not inspire then. At the same time, does my headmaster want the students to dwell on overdoses and casual, sexual encounters....perhaps not.
Regardless, I've now purchased my own copy of The Book of Enoch as I'm curious about the story which drove Benton and his roommate to such obsessive behaviour....more
I originally heard of this book at a conference for developing literacy through the arts. Consquently, I found myself focusing primarily on the visualI originally heard of this book at a conference for developing literacy through the arts. Consquently, I found myself focusing primarily on the visual imagery DiCamillo uses to create such believable and intriguing small moments in the lives of her characters. For this reason alone, I would like to recommend it my studnets who are learning English as an additional language. However, the tearjerker factor makes me a bit reluctant. I'm hestiant to set kids up for those painful moments. Overall, it was a fabulously written book with a positive vibe -- though I must admit the lingering impression I have of the ending was not one with a very clear point as to the story's slightly self-help message. ...more