3.5 stars. "The Crane Wife" is a contemporary retelling of a Japanese folk tale. In the original story a poor sailmaker helps an injured crane by pull3.5 stars. "The Crane Wife" is a contemporary retelling of a Japanese folk tale. In the original story a poor sailmaker helps an injured crane by pulling an arrow from her wing. The next day a beautiful woman arrives at his home, and soon becomes his wife. She offers to weave sails for him which brings in needed income, but with the condition that he cannot watch her work. The sailmaker becomes greedy and takes in more and more orders for sails. Eventually he went into her private room as she was working and saw a crane weakly plucking the last feathers from her body. His greed ruined the relationship and he was left alone. (There are other variations of this tale.)
Patrick Ness has written a modern version of this folk tale set in London involving George and Kumiko. Kumiko brings George the love he needs, but always keeps her past very private. She makes exquisite artworks by combining her cuttings of feathers with George's paper cuttings made from old books. Kumiko's artistic tiles tell a secondary story about a volcano who destroys the earth (but also creates mountains), and a bird called "the lady" who forgives out of love. These two stories have elements of fantasy, myth, and magical realism.
George has a daughter Amanda, a young divorced mother of a toddler, who has problems with anger, self-acceptance, and despair. Her story is more realistic and sometimes funny, and would probably give this adult novel crossover appeal to a YA audience. The humorous Mehmet, a twenty-something assistant at George's store, is also a young character that would appeal to a YA reader.
I read a children's book, "A Monster Calls", by Patrick Ness a few years ago and was very impressed. Although I enjoyed "The Crane Wife", I felt that there was a bit too much going on at once with a fantasy (the volcano and the lady) within another fantasy (George and the crane/Kumiko), plus Amanda's emotional journey. The author writes beautifully, has a sense of humor, and understands human nature. I just prefer his simpler stories to a more convoluted one.
Lewis Nordan shows us a 1955 rural Mississippi Delta town, and how its inhabitants have been impacted by the lynching of Bobo, a 14-year-old black boyLewis Nordan shows us a 1955 rural Mississippi Delta town, and how its inhabitants have been impacted by the lynching of Bobo, a 14-year-old black boy from Chicago. The real murder of Emmett Till, who allegedly wolf whistled or flirted with a white woman, was the inspiration for this book.
The book weaves a story about the people living in Arrow Catcher, mostly poor whites and even poorer blacks. There is a culture of racism, violence, and alcoholism. A bit of the Southern Gothic comes through with mentions of the grotesque. Satirical humor is present in the interactions between people, and a talking parrot adds some comic elements. (The murder itself was treated as the tragic event that it was.)
Black men singing the blues set a sad musical tone in the first half of the book. A group of ancient black buzzards, who had feasted on the corpses during the Civil War, adds to the ominous feeling. Alice, a young schoolteacher, has a vision of a dead child in a raindrop.
After Bobo is murdered, with a bullet knocking an eye from its socket, he watches the coverup through the dislodged eye. "Through the demon eye he saw Solon, tense behind the steering wheel, holding the truck on its true course until he reached the safety of the other side, rain still falling like pennies from heaven, dirty copper, the headlights, demon eyes themselves, laying beams like gangplanks on a pirate ship."
Alice takes her fourth grade students on a field trip to the courthouse to watch the trial of the two men arrested for the murder. What will the next generation learn about justice? Will the idealistic teacher be a vehicle for change?
Lewis Nordan tells this story with a combination of history, ethics, magical realism, humor, and just good storytelling. It's a creative combination that works!
The gorgeous cover drew me to Blackbird House, and this book of twelve interwoven short stories did not disappoint me. The stories are set on a smallThe gorgeous cover drew me to Blackbird House, and this book of twelve interwoven short stories did not disappoint me. The stories are set on a small farm in a fishing village on Cape Cod from the 18th Century to the present time. Residents of the Blackbird House have experienced many challenges in life, and deep love that makes it all worthwhile.
Like many of Alice Hoffman's works, this book has elements of magical realism. There have been sightings of the ghost of a young boy lost at sea, and his pet blackbird whose feathers turned white after the violent storm. All of the emotions that make us human were on display in these impressive stories--love, loss, fear, hope, and contentment. ...more
Mona, a reporter for a Colombian tabloid, is sent to the poor mountainous neighborhood of Galilea on the outskirts of Bogota. She is to write a storyMona, a reporter for a Colombian tabloid, is sent to the poor mountainous neighborhood of Galilea on the outskirts of Bogota. She is to write a story about an angel who has attracted a devoted following. The angel is a handsome young man who speaks only in foreign tongues, and has a luminous charismatic quality about him. Mona falls deeply in love with him. His mother claims that the angel uses her as a psychic channel, and she has journals filled with his thoughts.
The village is composed of two groups--those that believe in the angel and another group, led by the priest, who think he is a fraud or demon. Mona persues the story of the angel's early life and finds he had a horrific childhood. But he possesses a personal magnetism that offers the poor residents of Galilea something to believe in. Is he an angel, or mentally ill, or both? Full of Latin American magical realism and superstition, this story does not give us an answer. Occasionally, it veers into a humorous or silly vein. The reader justs needs to suspend reality, and go along for an unusual ride....more
Illumination Night gets its name from a festival of lanterns held yearly on a summer night on Martha's Vineyard. Most of the characters in the book haIllumination Night gets its name from a festival of lanterns held yearly on a summer night on Martha's Vineyard. Most of the characters in the book have troubles or needs. Vonny and Andre's marriage is strained, and Vonny is having panic attacks. Jody, the teenager next door, is running wild, but her relationship with her grandmother benefits both of them. A young boy has problems because he is growing at an abnormally slow rate, while a gigantic neighbor down the road keeps himself hidden because people think he's a freak. The book is a combination of reality and magical realism. Although the characters are a bit unusual, the emotions they feel are what make us all human, and the connections between them are the magic that illuminate their lives. ...more
A child makes some wishes that end in tragic events, and reacts by keeping people at an emotional distance. As a young woman, she again makes a wish wA child makes some wishes that end in tragic events, and reacts by keeping people at an emotional distance. As a young woman, she again makes a wish without really thinking about it, and she is struck by lightening in Florida. She feels icy inside and out, and everything that should be red is colorless. She meets another survivor of a lightening strike who is her complete opposite. He can set things on fire, and she can be burned by his touch. They each learn each other's secrets, and help each other move on emotionally.
Meanwhile, her brother Ned is hiding his own secret. As she helps him and her sister-in-law, the woman's icy interior melts while their bonds grow. This book is about magic, passion, and family bonds. The author expertly weaves reality and magic together to create an unusual, imaginative story....more
This book combines reality with magical realism,involving a supporting cast of colorful drifters, drug addicts, prostitutes, a priest, a cop, and GracThis book combines reality with magical realism,involving a supporting cast of colorful drifters, drug addicts, prostitutes, a priest, a cop, and Graciela the Mexican healer. The action revolves around Doc Ebersole who lives with the angry ghost of Hank Williams in the Yellow Rose boarding house in San Antonio in 1963. Doc had given Hank several morphine injections just prior to his death, and the ghost of Hank seems to be waiting around so that they can eventually travel to their final reward together.
The story is a crazy trip, sometimes humorous and sometimes sad, as Doc practices medicine on the wrong side of the law, specializing in abortions and gunshot wounds. Graciela, with her magical healing, transforms the lives of the addicts and hookers in a positive direction.
Underneath the humor and magical realism, the reader can also understand the reality of life for this population living on the edge in the red-light district....more
This was a light read about friendships in a small town, family secrets, a possible murder, and romance with an added sprinkling of magical realism. TThis was a light read about friendships in a small town, family secrets, a possible murder, and romance with an added sprinkling of magical realism. The main characters were two men and two women who had gone to high school together. They found out that people were often different than what they imagined they were in high school. The book shows them at a time when they are examining their own identities, and deciding what they want in life. It was also the beginning of a true friendship between the women whose grandmothers had been best friends....more
This is an unusual book about a young girl who discovers she has a special talent of tasting the emotions of the people who prepare the food she eats.This is an unusual book about a young girl who discovers she has a special talent of tasting the emotions of the people who prepare the food she eats. It becomes a curse since she lives in a dysfunctional family. She tries to connect with them and figure out the emotions of her family members. She finds that it's best when she eats processed factory-made food, untouched by human hands, so she is not overwhelmed by people's emotions.
Her brother is especially unusual. At first, I thought he might be autistic but then he starts disappearing. It also seemed like the parents did not react the way I would expect when they could not find him near the end of the book. I think it would have been a better book if the author had just concentrated on Rose's gift (or curse). The book did keep my interest, and it was a quick read....more