Sophie and the Rising Sun is a story of World War II - specifically of World War II right as the attack on Pearl Harbor happens. It is a story of that time but set in a small Georgia town. As such, it is period piece about the American South.
Sophie is the town spinster with an overpowering mother and a lost love in her background. Ms. Anne is the one in town not afraid to do things a little differently. Ms. Ruth is the town busybody. And Mr. Oto is the anomaly in town - an American of Japanese heritage who lands in the town and stays. The book is about the "friendship" between Sophie and Mr. Oto and the ramifications of the Pearl Harbor attacks on this small town and these individuals. The book is about the choices the characters make in response to the war and the consequences.
Sophie and the Rising Sun is a delightful story to read. It is definitely more a story of small town America than war. The news of Pearl Harbor is the trigger for what follows. However, the focus clearly remains on the individual characters and this small town. It is interesting to feel the town and characters so far removed from the war yet at the same time so deeply embedded in it because of the prejudice and fear it created.
The prejudices in our lives come across so clearly in this book. Mr. Oto is as American as Ms. Ruth, yet is judged by the way he looks and speaks and by his heritage. Certain people cannot look past the surface differences to see that he is just like them. We would like to think this does not happen here in America, but unfortunately it did and it still does. So, I found myself laughing because the "period piece" nature of this book made the prejudices seem ludicrous. However, I also found myself thinking that this could very well occur now but hoping that it will not.
***Reviewed for the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program***...more
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson is part travelogue, part comedy, and part monologue. The book is at times informative, at times unkind, and at timeA Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson is part travelogue, part comedy, and part monologue. The book is at times informative, at times unkind, and at times funny. It is a personal journey, a social commentary, and a call to action to protect the Appalachian Trail. Overall, my reaction is as diverse as the book itself. Parts I could skip over and parts I really enjoyed.
A Child Out of Alcatraz is the story of Olivia and her family and a story of Alcatraz, the place and the prison. Olivia's father is a prison guard at Alcatraz. Her mother Vivien seems to be caught in a life that she feels captive in. Through flashbacks, we learn that she idealistically stepped into a marriage that did not lead to a life she envisioned. The promises and dreams differ greatly from the reality. The reality becomes a demanding husband, children, and an isolated life on Alcatraz. Told through Olivia's eyes, the story is one of Vivien's descent further and further into the despair of her life and the effects it has on Olivia.
This book tells two stories - one the fictional account of Olivia and one the true history of Alcatraz. The author provide many accounts of historical events seamlessly incorporating the characters through the story. It almost gives the book the tone and voice of a memoir.
Olivia's story is a heart wrenching one. A young child is forced to grow up too fast both because of where she lives and because her mother cannot "mother" her. My heart reaches out to her, wanting to protect and shelter her from the reality of her life. The character of Vivien is at times a sympathetic one because of the situation she finds herself in. However, because of some of her choices particularly towards her children, the sympathy wears thin after a while.
Overall, a beautiful debut novel which makes you care about the characters and what happens to them. I look forward to reading more from Tara Ison.
*** Reviewed for the LibraryThing Member Giveaway Program***...more