Dear Reader

Random musings on reading and books from a librarian in training.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Town Like Alice

If you've ever come across BBC's list of 100 books, you've probably spotted A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute. A Town Like Alice centers around Jean Paget, who was a prisoner of war during World War II in Malaya, and the man she met and fell in love with.

This book starts off incredibly slow, I would recommend really giving it a chance. It opens with a lengthy description of the will preparations for one of Jean's relatives (the book is narrated by Jean's lawyer). The beginning is very dry and technical. This is the second time that I've tried reading A Town Like Alice -- I couldn't get through it the first time. There is also some outdated language as well.

During the war, Jean and fellow women prisoners walked for thousands of miles while their captors look for a camp in which to keep them. She meets an Australian soldier, whose also a POW and risks his life to help Jean and her fellow prisoners.

An interesting read and well worth the effort.

Belong to Me

I may have been ::er:: lax with the blogging as of late, but I have been doing fairly well on the reading front. Recent reads include Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos. Belong to Me follows the intertwined lives of Cornelia, Piper, Lake and her son Dev.

I didn't pick up on the fact that Belong to Me is a continuation of Love Walked In. One of the main characters -- Cornelia -- was also in Love Walked In. Cornelia and her husband, Teo, have moved to the suburbs. Their neighbor, Piper, is caring for her terminally ill family and Dev -- Lake's gifted child -- struggles with understanding why his mother has uprooted them while finally feeling at home at school.

Like Love Walked In, Belong to Me alternates between the characters with Piper, Cornelia and Piper narrating chapters. I typically don't like that that type of narration, but in this instance I liked the voices of each of the characters.

A few pet peeves: I still find Cornelia and the overall writing style a little too precious. The main plot twist or revelation towards the end also annoyed me. It felt too forced and stretched credulity to a certain extent. I enjoyed reading about the friendships like Piper's relationship with her sick friend, Elizabeth -- and how our connections with people can cause sadness, but also joy and comfort.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Kindred goes graphic

I was very excited when I saw this news via Feministing. There are plans in the works to make a graphic novel of Kindred.

According to Racialicious, Beacon is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Kindred with a proposal to create a graphic novel of Kindred. If done correctly, this could be really awesome.

For those unfamiliar, Kindred is about a woman who time travels between the 1970s and the south when slavery was at its height. She finds herself pulled back in time every time her ancestor (a white son of a slaveholder who had her ancestor with a slave) is in danger.

You can read my take on it here:

Announcement: Beacon Press Seeks an Illustator for Kindred

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sarah's Key - Tatiana de Rosnay

Despite the sadness of the story, I had a hard time putting down Sarah's Key, which focuses on the Vel d'Hiv roundup in 1942 in Paris.

Around 12,884 Jews were arrested and imprisioned in the VĂ©lodrome d'hiver - an indoor track -- for five days before being sent to camps in France. Utlimately, they were sent to Auschwitz.
According to Wikipedia, The roundup accounted for more than a quarter of the 42,000 Jews sent from France to Auschwitz in 1942, of whom only 811 came home at the end of the war.
Sarah's Key centers around two women - Sarah, whose family was taken in the roundup and Julia, an American living in Paris decades after the war.

When the novel starts, Sarah locks her four-year-old brother, Michel, in a secret cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that they'll only be gone for a few hours.

The book alternates between Sarah's story and Julia's. Julia becomes drawn to Sarah's tale after being assigned to write a story about the roundup's 60th anniversary.

I usually don't like it when books flash back and forth like Sarah's Key does, However, in this instance I felt like it helped break up the unrelenting sadness of Sarah's tale. I thought this was an interesting look at love, redemption, secrets and forgiveness.

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