Matty's Reviews > Miracle at St. Anna

Miracle at St. Anna by James McBride
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Aug 09, 10

Read from July 21 to August 09, 2010

Prior to getting into this novel, I had heard mixed emotions about the movie (which I have never seen) based upon James McBride's "Miracle at St. Anna" and directed by Spike Lee. Yet, one thing I've learned is that the book is almost always better than the movie.

"Miracle at St. Anna" was never on my list of books to read, but a friend of mine had come for a visit and while she was here, she had finished this novel and decided to leave it for me (I'm not one to turn down a free book). In the end, I'm glad that I had a chance to read this because "Miracle at St. Anna" portrays an unfamiliar side of WWII. The story follows a group of four buffalo soldiers who find themselves stranded in an Italian village - personally, I know very little of the Italian point of view during WWII, as well as that of African-American soldiers.

What I found interesting were the diverse dynamics and relationships throughout the book - buffalo soldiers/Italians, buffalo soldiers/white soldiers, Train/Angelo, the interaction within the group of the four African-American soldiers... the list goes on. In addition, I felt that the character development was excellent. Each of the four soldiers had such contrasting personalities, and I thought McBride did an excellent job of depicting this (and also with the other notable characters).

The storyline itself was quite interesting, as the paths of the buffalo soldiers, Italian villagers and partisans all converged. Without blatantly going into an all-out blitz concerning the massacre at St. Anna, McBride did just enough to show the reader its horrors. I'm not sure whether or not the "present day" subplot of Hector Negron (which appears at the beginning and end of the novel) is really necessary. I understand that it ties everything together (and to my knowledge, it is what much of the movie is based on), however, the meat of the novel lies within the time during WWII, and to me, that would have been enough.
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