Monday, May 12, 2014

April Book Reviews 19-22

I just didn't read that much in April  and to be honest I'm not reading much this month either.  To say I'm a little stressed/overwhelmed by the trip would be an understatement...I guess it is going to be a busy end of the year as I try to catch up.  Here is my last months measly offering.

Thirty Girls - Susan Minot

You'd have to be living under a rock to have not heard about the 276 girls kidnapped in Nigeria.  That or maybe listening to the wrong news stations.  Which to be true is most of them.  I've read a lot about news stations not picking up the story until way too late and even now when I go to I notice that the story has been pushed to the side by the Michael Sam kiss.  People/news station get a life.  Kissing is not serious news.  Thankfully NPR has kept me up to date.  They reported when the girls first were stolen.  Then they reported the girls were being reported safe and back home.  Then they reported that was a lie and the girls were still missing, kidnapped and hidden in the jungle by Boko Haram.  It is a nightmare, and if you have any curiosity about what that nightmare might entail Susan Minot lays it out for you pretty clearly in her book Thirty Girls.  I actually heard Susan speaking about her book on NPR a few months ago.  Susan Minot was a travel writer who at a dinner party some years ago heard this outrageous story about a bunch of Uganda girls that had been kidnapped from their school and taken into the jungle by the Lord's Resistance Army.  A nun at the school almost immediately went after them with all the money she could gather.  When she found the camp they were being held at she talked with the commander and he agreed to let most of the girls go but insisted that he be allowed to keep thirty girls of his choosing.  It was heartbreaking but the nun agreed to the terms, being forced to leave behind thirty girls in exchange for the 109 she was
allowed to leave with.  Minot asked the storyteller where she had heard this story since Minot had not heard a word about it previously.  Sound familiar anyone?  The storyteller told her that her daughter was one of the girls still being held.  The story captivated Minot and she decided to take a break from her work and write a news based article.  She traveled to Uganda, interviewed everyone she could and wrote a fully report about the situation hoping that it would garner world outrage and support for the parents still trying to get their daughters back.  No one cared.  She then wrote the story into a fictional novel but kept it very true to the actual story hoping that at least that way she could reach a broader audience and make people feel something about this situation.  I was really touched by her interview and the story she told of the girls who were finally all released, escaped, or died after ten years.  I would recommend anyone who is interested in what is happening in Nigeria, what happened in Uganda, what happens all over the world in poor areas where parents are helpless to protect their children against armed men who would take them and use them up that they listen to her NPR interview.  It was amazingly insightful.

Now for the book.  A lot of the story stays true to the actual tale.  That was what I wanted to read.  I wanted to know how the girls survived and most importantly how they finally came to escape.  I'm not going to say I enjoyed it because these were horribly difficult things that happened to these girls.  They were taken as sex slaves.  The LRA claimed they were marrying them but there is really no other word for it.  They were abused, starved, beaten, raped, they were shot, forced to commit acts of violence to survived, and they were tortured.  These are not pretty things but I felt that their stories and their escapes their attempts to heal themselves, those things needed to be heard and understood.  The part I didn't appreciate in the book was the writer that Susan writes into the story, the almost 40 something insecure woman having an affair with a much younger man.  I just didn't care about her at all.  I didn't want to know anything about her.  Minot claims she wrote that part of the story to give you a break from some of the things happening to the girls but I just thought everything about Jane, the writer's love life, was a misery not worth reading.  Prayers for those girls in Nigeria and all the other children around the world being exploited.  Hopefully we can stay angry, we can stay vigilant, and we can convince governments that they have no greater duty then to get these girls back and keeping children safe!

Sycamore Row- John Grisham

I have always loved JG but the last few years I feel like when I read John Grisham I'm disappointed.  This story was actually fine.  I liked it.  The characters all sort of felt like some of his played out characatures but I enjoyed the story or at least getting to the center of the mystery of why a rich old white man in the deep south would completely write his entire family out of his will and leave everything to his black maid.  Let me give you a hint, it isn't sex.  If you like John Grisham, you'll probably like this.  If you've never read a John Grisham, don't start with this.  While I have no real complaints this is no Pelican Brief.  Start there!

The Mirk and the Midnight Hour - Jane Nickerson

I actually kind of loved this book.  I'm a little embarrassed to admit it because it was totally predictable (at least the who was going to end up with who part) and at the end Nickerson almost ruined the story by throwing in some weird voodoo magic aspect (it was awful and totally unnecessary), but I actually loved most of the characters (that includes the crazy cat lady) and I loved the story line.  Spoiler alert, Southern girl finds and cares for a wounded Northern boy during the Civil War.  Besides the weird hoodoo voodoo stuff at the almost end of the book it was great, at least if you teen Romeo/Juliet type romances like I do :)

Friday Brown - Vikki Wakefield

I don't know if this makes me a weirdo, but I always enjoy starting a book and realizing a few chapters in that it isn't about an American.  It's like a nice little extra gift, oh look a little insight into another country. Friday Brown is that kind of gift. Friday Brown is on the run.  She's been travelling Australia all her life with her mother but after her mother passes from breast cancer she takes off from the home of a grandfather she's just met.  She ends up being taken in by a group of misfit runaways.  Each is damaged in their own way.  Silence the boy who finds her was left mute after a particularly bad beating by his father.  The kids keep an eye on each other and work cooperatively for survival.  Arden is their leader and keeps them in place with both the love they desperately desire and the fear they became used to at home.  After things in town get a little dicey Arden takes the family out into the outback.  A trip that splinters the group and one that not everyone survives.  This is a nice coming of age runaway book.  Definitely YA but I'd say more geared toward the more mature.  There are definitely adult situations happening here.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like some good books. Thanks for the NPR link. I'm going to listen to that.



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