The Read Around The World Book Club discussion

June 2017 Kenya > Chapter 40 to the END

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message 1: by Melanie (new)

Melanie | 338 comments Mod
Final thoughts?

message 2: by Milena (new)

Milena Widdowson The sheer resilience of human beings is what I shall take with me from this book. What a reading journey.

Here are my thoughts about the final chapters:

I cried when I read Akai's back story; her closed off nature fully explained. Her heartbreaking loss and the fear of more loss took control of her. She was a young woman beyond coping and the heavy loneliness was gut wrenching. I am so glad she was finally able to have closure with Ajany, both hearts were allowed to heal enough to give them hope without it being a sugar sweet reunion.

I would have liked more of Isaiah's response to how Hugh died. I know he got the watered down truth and Hugh is no longer in the picture as his father, yet I missed his thoughts in this part of the book.

I loved the coming together of Ajany and Hugh though and the description on page 357 was stunning, '...she sees in the glow of the fireflies, hears in the call of night birds, the yowling of four winds, and the secret silent songs of stars that are not as distant as they first appear to be.'

I loved the wandering of the two old men, Ali and Nyipir, the sense of letting go is portrayed in a lovely way through them and I thought the idea of Kormaddo II was wonderful.

I thought the snapshots of the landscape from above were fitting for the ending and it felt like I was taking leave from Kenya in this way.

The one thing I wasn't sure of was the man from Brazil, who I assume to be the Bernardo of Ajany's past. I'm not sure what this adds to the ending, perhaps a reminder that history cannot be forgotten but it didn't work for me.

message 3: by Deirdre (new)

Deirdre Metcalf | 17 comments I have really mixed feelings about this book. If it wasn't for Ajany and the flashbacks of Odidi, I don't think I would have finished this book. Most of the other characters were either unlikeable or just fell flat.
I thought the writing was beautiful and poetic. However the timeline was very confusing with the constant back and forth.
I also don't feel as if I learned much about Kenya in general.

message 4: by Ilka (new)

Ilka | 31 comments Wow, to me this book was incredibly heart-wrenching but also truly beautiful. It constantly kept me thinking about it even when I wasn't reading or was reading other things. I think the characters and this country that was opened up to me, will stay with me for a while yet.

Akai's story was so sad and finally made sense of her character for me. Before, I had a hard time seeing her as more than a temptress, but these last chapters really opened up her character to me. I still think she is a little too other-worldly, too much of a force of nature, to be really relateable or entirely credible, but this part of her story worked for me and I am glad Ajany got this moment with her mother to finally connect and know she was loved even if Akai didn't know how to show her.

The ending was a bit of a let down. I love the thought of all of these characters walking off into the landscape towards their futures, starting over and creating new lives, but what I don't get is why Ajany and Isaiah had to die. They just left everything behind them, burned Wuoth Ogik and the ghosts that haunt it, only to be killed in a flashflood? Because that is what the book implies, right? I found that very disappointing that all the old people got their second or third chances and these two, that were caught in the past and other people's hsitories more than their own deeds, don't get a future.

I also don't like that Bernardo suddenly entered the story on the very last page. He doesn't belong here, I feel. This is not the story of what Ajany did in Brazil, the past does not matter anymore, and his appearance right at the end serves no purpose whatsoever and seems to even contradict the book's message that forgiveness is possible and that there can be a future even with such a horrible past.

Nevertheless, I loved the book and these little things are really only minor irritations to me. After all, a book's ending usually doesn't manage to ruin a book for me, even if I find it disappointing after the brilliance that came before.

message 5: by Milena (new)

Milena Widdowson Ilka it sounds like we had a very similar reading experience 🙌🏻 I enjoyed reading your thoughts 💛

message 6: by Ilka (new)

Ilka | 31 comments Milena wrote: "Ilka it sounds like we had a very similar reading experience 🙌🏻 I enjoyed reading your thoughts 💛"

Yes, I think we had similar thoughts on a lot of the book. I'm glad someone else also enjoyed it as much as I did.

message 7: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 5 comments Hi everyone,
I am a first time commentator to this book club, as I only just recently came across Mel's booktube channel and I have been playing catch up with the books that you have all read! I know that there aren't many comments being left for "Dust" anymore, however, I just finished it and thought I would add my own thoughts.

I think I had an easier time following the novel, and understanding it's setting, as I have both lived in Africa (not Kenya however) and studied African History for my Master's degree. I had a stronger understanding of the colonial and post-colonial setting and I did feel like she did an outstanding job at creating a feeling for this time and its realities.

I found her style difficult to immerse myself in at the beginning, and actually put it aside for a few days (something I rarely do with a book that I have started) but found that the style grew on me, and I began thinking about the novel and its characters, which led me to pick it up again. The second time I picked it up, I was hooked, and sped through the remainder of the book.

She created an out-of-place and time feeling to this book, which resonated with me, and I found was an excellent device for communicating to the readers how unsettled and unrooted the colonial era and the post-colonial era was. Both for its African "subjects", who were catapulted into a rigid regime of social and racial prejudice, the introduction to, on an unequal footing, with the European economic and political systems, and religious tensions, and for the European "administrators", who were grasping to remain "in control" in a land not their own, while their own countries started and finished major wars, underwent major social changes of their own, and economic booms and busts.

I did find there were perhaps a few too many characters, and as many others noted, I do wish more attention was given to fewer characters so as to have a more rounded picture of the major characters. I do think she addressed head-on the horrors and crimes of the colonial and post-colonial era, perpetrated both by Western and African individuals and leaders, and did not shy away from forcing the reader to either acknowledge or learn about this history.

I am unsure if I really found the relationship between Ajany and Isaiah to be an honest one, I found it perhaps was more of a plot device and an easy way to tie up several character's journeys.

All in all, a great read, and many thanks to the book club for introducing it to me!

message 8: by Milena (new)

Milena Widdowson Rebecca wrote: "Hi everyone,
I am a first time commentator to this book club, as I only just recently came across Mel's booktube channel and I have been playing catch up with the books that you have all read! I kn..."

I really enjoyed reading your review Rebecca, I'm so glad that you picked Dust up a second time. It sounds like we had a similar reading experience :)

message 9: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 5 comments Milena wrote: "Rebecca wrote: "Hi everyone,
I am a first time commentator to this book club, as I only just recently came across Mel's booktube channel and I have been playing catch up with the books that you hav..."

Thanks so much! I am now off to request The Housekeeper and the Professor, as unfortunately my library doesn't have Now and at the Hour of our Death. Looking forward to it!

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