Review: Kindred

This book had me wanting to slap a lot of people. Mind you, I’ve only slapped one person in my life. If I’ve already committed to the action by thinking about it, this a significant increase. I also posted this review to everywhere but my blog so far, which is not the usual order. Now everything is upside down.

Book description:

Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana’s life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.

Review

After reading the first chapter and rolling my eyes a little, I’m thinking Dana will save this white kid and he’ll love her and be a good person and all that jazz. Yeah, no…I got a kick-in-the-pants surprise.

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Review: This Tender Land

This Tender Land

This book came to me at a perfect time. I was trying to figure out why I so disliked a different book featuring a traveling group, and found the answer in a few things This Tender Land did right. But first, here is a description of the book right from Good Reads:

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Book Reviews: Necessary Sins and Lost Saints, from the Lazare Family Saga

What does over two decades worth of research get you? An artful and brilliant series with the ability to put the reader right into the past. I have the privilege of receiving advanced reader copies before each release so far, and it’s hooked me from the first page. Since this is a saga meant to be read in order, I’m putting my reviews of the first two books here in order.

Necessary Sins

As soon as I read the first chapter, I knew this book would tear at my heart and make me want to reach through the pages to slap a couple of characters. The author dives right into the mind and life of each character, period prejudice and all, giving a vivid experience of the times and culture. Heroes are conflicted. Villains live up to their labels. Every scene, character, and phrase drives the story forward with relentless irony. 

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Book Review: Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier

I don’t want to give away the ending but the beginning words say it all: “There is no scatheless rapture.”

13 moons

The main character remembers his life as an orphaned, bound boy to a merchant who trades with the Cherokee Nation pre-removal from their homelands. As he adjusts to his new situation, he learns a great many things: who to avoid or trust, how to communicate, how to show respect, how to keep his horse from being stolen, the value of each item in trade instead of money, random coins and their values, etc. He also gained an adopted Cherokee father and learned a great deal about love and loss. I’d say that really, the entire book is about value, whether it’s people, relationships, lost love, or land. It’s also about growing up and growing old, and how perspective changes with age.

Frazier twists in good humor, foreshadowing, difficult decisions, contested stories, and masterful settings with ease. It is from a white boy’s perspective, regardless of who Will spent his life with and how his views meshed with his new family, and the author makes that clear within the story.

Some surprises

I found a couple of surprises in the style that I am comfortable with now, but wasn’t sure about at first. Every single thing I might consider an oddity has a specific purpose and just…works.

  • There are no quotation marks for dialog. At first this bothered me, but I thought about it. There is an indication that somebody has started speaking, and after that, do I care? Not really. It just kind of flowed.
  • I didn’t notice the shift between past and present tense until the end.
  • Despite a few reviews criticizing details gotten wrong, etc., I didn’t care. Yes, there were a few things I’d researched extensively and could spout off a thing or two about what “actually happened”, but in these cases did the average person in the POV character’s situation know any better? Probably not. Hindsight is 20/20, and history buffs have a lot of hindsight to help them pick apart fiction books.

I’d never read a Charles Frazier book before, and I think this one is a great first! I bought it to read in tandem with the section printed in Cherokee syllabary (Tsogadu Nvdo), but I realized I couldn’t wait that long to read it, so I will turn back when I can understand more Cherokee words.