Rachel's Reviews > Slant of Light

Slant of Light by Steve Wiegenstein
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May 27, 12

bookshelves: 2012, fiction, historical-fiction
Read in May, 2012

I chose this book because I live in Missouri and I thought it would be fun to read and learn about Missouri's history during the time of the Civil War. Because James Turner's utopian community, Daybreak, was somewhat isolated from the outside world the book wasn't overloaded with historical facts. It had a good balance between the plot within Daybreak and the happenings of the outside world that inevitably creeps into life at Daybreak.

The characters are what really drives this novel. The three main characters - James, his wife Charlotte, and their friend Adam, start out as starry-eyed idealists, hoping that Daybreak will be the community of their dreams. When they start to see that reality and forces beyond their control will make building and maintaining Daybreak a struggle, we start to see their flaws. I liked that these characters were multi-dimensional and certainly not perfect. They made mistakes but I was able to sympathize with them and keep liking them.

I have to mention that since I Iive on the Missouri side of the Missouri/Kansas border, I thought this line from the beginning of the book was hilarious: "Politics was a game for reasonable men, and Kansas was no place to be reasonable."

This book gave me a lot to think about and I was still mulling it over several days after reading it. Could a utopian community ever really work? Would we want it to? What would the purpose be? When James Turner tries to explain to someone that the purpose of Daybreak is to set an example for those around them, the man responds, "In other words, if I walk among murderers and thieves, my moral obligation is simply to avoid being a murderer and thief myself so that they may profit by my example." Is that enough - what is the obligation of the members of an utopian community to the outside world? This book would be a great book club selection with these and so many other issues to discuss.

This book is published by Blank Slate Press, a small, independent publisher. Because of that I think it needs - and deserves! - some help in getting a buzz going about how good it is. I highly recommend Slant of Light. Get it, read it, talk about it. Spread the word!
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