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I don't know quite what this book wanted to be. It's not really gothic, and not really spooky, but it has elements of that. Maybe sort of a cross of TI don't know quite what this book wanted to be. It's not really gothic, and not really spooky, but it has elements of that. Maybe sort of a cross of Tom Sawyer and Oliver Twist, with a lot of weird characters: a giant dug up from a recent burial who turns out to be alive and says he was "made for killing," a dwarf who lives on the roof and comes down the chimney for his daily dinner from the landlady, an orphan with a missing hand, the man who adopts him leads a gang of petty thieves and grave robbers, and then there is the tycoon owner of the local mousetrap factory. I'm not sure I would have stuck with it and finished the book if it weren't an audiobook. The narrator (William Dufris) did a good job with voices, and as one reviewer said, it's a bit like listening to tall tales around a campfire.
Book description: Twelve year-old Ren is missing his left hand. How it was lost is a mystery that Ren has been trying to solve for his entire life, as well as who his parents are, and why he was abandoned as an infant at Saint Anthony’s Orphanage for boys. He longs for a family to call his own and is terrified of the day he will be sent alone into the world. But then a young man named Benjamin Nab appears, claiming to be Ren’s long-lost brother, and his convincing tale of how Ren lost his hand and his parents persuades the monks at the orphanage to release the boy and to give Ren some hope. But is Benjamin really who he says he is? Journeying through a New England of whaling towns and meadowed farmlands, Ren is introduced to a vibrant world of hardscrabble adventure filled with outrageous scam artists, grave robbers, and petty thieves. If he stays, Ren becomes one of them. If he goes, he’s lost once again. As Ren begins to find clues to his hidden parentage he comes to suspect that Benjamin not only holds the key to his future, but to his past as well....more
Short and sweet. The ending is never really in doubt - the story is about how they get there. After all the build up, I thought the ending could haveShort and sweet. The ending is never really in doubt - the story is about how they get there. After all the build up, I thought the ending could have been drawn out a bit more. Perhaps I just wanted the book to be longer. The relationship between the elderly widower and the child who will never truly fit in the white world is delightful. Somewhat unwilling to take on the task at first, he discovers that he needs her as much as she needs him.
Book description: It is 1870 and Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows. Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forging a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land. Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself. ...more
I have to admit I was underwhelmed by this book after all the hoopla and press and a Pulitzer Prize. It's not exactly fantasy, and it's not exactly maI have to admit I was underwhelmed by this book after all the hoopla and press and a Pulitzer Prize. It's not exactly fantasy, and it's not exactly magical realism. So I've settled on alternate history. The Underground Railroad is imagined as an actual underground railroad, built in some mysterious past by unknown builders but in a time period before the railroad even existed in the United States. Likewise other events, like the section set in South Carolina with white doctors encouraging black women to have tubal ligations long before such a thing was historically available. So the "railroad" is something of a time machine as well. Those things didn't bother me. I give it 4 stars because this movement through time and space made the plot feel disjointed at times. Or it has no plot in the traditional sense. There was also no character development. What makes this a compelling book, though, is the way it removes the "black experience" from time and place, making the reader a vicarious traveler on this same journey regardless of race. In that sense, perhaps the reader is actually the main character - hopefully a character that has learned something and gained in understanding of that experience.
Book description: Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned—Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted. In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom....more