Monica's Reviews > The Thing With Feathers

The Thing With Feathers by Anne Sweazy-Kulju
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Jan 02, 2013

really liked it
Read from January 02 to 04, 2013

The introduction of the book was confusing at first. As the part of the book, it indeed introduced some history for the story. I found myself bombarded with descriptions and retelling for an introduction. It wasn’t actually bad though it wasn’t that good either. I think if some parts were cut, it could help maintaining the attention of the readers. Honestly, I was tempted to put the book down because I felt a bit dizzy reading those in my e-reader. However, I also understand that as intro, some stories need to be told so as to be foundation of what are to come in the later part of the story.

I am a Roman Catholic, but I respect other religions. No matter how devoted, I am aware of some negative acts made by others who are actively linked in religion. In this book, one of the main characters was portrayed as a man of church. However, it was ironic that this character is also the antagonist of the story. He was described as a fake missionary – someone who was a self-proclaimed man of God. He took it upon himself to understand and interpret the words of God and apply it according to his understanding and liking. It was too much.
Living in a Catholic country in Asia, I don’t doubt this would be a controversial topic in my place. Even there was no association of Catholicism in the book it was still based on a Christian belief. I have read some news where leaders of the Church (pastors, ministers, and even priests) were guilty of violating the Canon law. Some got involved in very nasty situation, but I feel there could be nothing compared to pastor featured in this book named Julius Bowman. He was portrayed as a living nightmare for those believers of the religion. I won’t be explicit about what he did, but I consider them the worst things a man of God can do.

More of the physical and spiritual brutality? I am not sure if it was the author’s intention, but I found some similarity between the main characters’ family and the Holy family. The husband, upon receiving the divine “message” decided to take the woman as his wife even though she’s carrying a child whose father is not him. However, it was tinged with evil stories that I found too harsh to be real. In fact, I was surprised and unable to believe that a person could turn out to be evil personified in his lifetime.

I also notice that there were a lot of deaths in the story. A novel can be tragic without getting everyone killed in the process. Almost all of the characters introduced in the earlier parts of the story died. It may be to gain sympathy and some form of emotional attachment to the readers, but it worked for me. I might be a bit disgusted with the brutality of how some characters died, but it sure made me feel vengeful, too. I got carried away in the story that I almost didn’t mind the abrupt cutting of scenes in the story.

In spite of the things I didn’t like, there were some points which made the author and her writing commendable. For one, I like the way she inserted facts, digits, and history in the scenes. She connected the years and events to actual phenomenon like the Great Depression. The scenes felt real and true to the time it happened. Even the accent and personality of the locals during that time were also beautifully exposed in the story.

The characters, when they were still alive, were also depicted as real humans – with flaws. I hate to read books which made the heroes and heroines a paragon of sweet, beautiful and everything nice. Instead of doing just that, the author gave her characters strong flaws which were also one of the driving forces of the story.

Even though there were lots of deaths and evil-doings in the novel, the title itself stood out. The thing with feathers. For those of you who are fan of Emily Dickinson, this might sound familiar to you. The title was derived from one of Dickinson’s poems. In fact, the poem itself was present in the story. It was hope – the thing that made everything still alive even if everything seems stained with darkness. It was something mentioned and displayed in the novel which affected me much. It’s like the light is seeping out of the story and going to my heart. It made me feel hopeful, too.

Overall, the story is okay with things to be liked and others to be improved upon. I share this to people to give them hope:

Hope is the Thing with Feathers by Emily Dickinson

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
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