Carey McDonald's Reviews > Stones from the River

Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi
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Feb 02, 08

Read in January, 2008

This was the first book I read with my new book club and I feel I need to rationalize the four- instead of five-star rating. The story is so important, and so deftly told, and the author does a great job of capturing the lives of citizens in a small German town from post-WWI through post-WWII. I felt like I came to know many of the characters personally. I cried several times. I had to really rethink what I know about history. And there were moments in the book where I literally had to stop reading just so that I could mentally and emotionally process what was happening.
But man oh MAN was it difficult to get into! I didn't hit my "reading stride" until well into the book, and still I continued to struggle through the rest of the way. Sure, there were passages that flowed wonderfully, filled with amazing, vivid imagery and flawless characterization. But, as my pal Emily said at our meeting: "She really made you work for it." Which, in no way means this is not a worthwhile book. After all, struggle, progress, interconnection, yadda yadda. But it's not one of those books that you "sink" into lazily and backstroke through the whole way. It's much more like treading carefully through a rocky-bottom stream, having to pause before each step, checking to find the most stable stone for your foot (which is already cut and bruised and sore), and all the while having to be alert enough so you don't get sidetracked by a floating log and bumped off of your foothold and back into a bed of unforgiving stones. Which, I guess, makes the title of the story just a little more apropos than it already is.
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Robyn Thanks, because I'm really struggling to get through the beginning!


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