Wow, this was a powerful book. I'm not sure its listed as a Young Adult novel, but it struck me as such while I read it. I guess that's because the main character is a troubled kid being passed around foster homes. If it's not a Young Adult listing, I am totally happy about that too, because it provides a lot of good insight and revelation to the older reader. For the non-Indian, this book is educational about contemporary native life; for the Native American, it's likely educational too, but in different ways, such as how to interpret --or investigate--some situations and events in one's background. The book as a whole causes one to think long and hard about the impact we as humans have on one another, from within families to interculturally. How careless we can be, and how devastating the results. Likewise, how simple it is to just step back a little bit and let someone like Sherman Alexie teach us how to see honestly and with humor. So, why didn't I give it a 5 star rating? I just thought the end came together a little to nicely, almost as though the author had run out of umph. Some may disagree, and with that I would be fine.
The beginning of this book was most promising; I could happily have accompanied Angus and Domenica throughut the novel. We begin with Angus bumbling about on the morning of his wedding, and his delightful character sings. I was fine with following the many other characters about while Angus and Domenica embark on honeymoon, but I waited eagerly for their return. The book had a finality to it. I would enjoy following other characters--especially poor Bertie who needs to age a bit--but if not, I also feel satisfied and the series feels complete.
I am surprised at needing to make one critical comment. For some very strange reason, the author--not even disguised as a character--tirades against the world of felines so loved by many readers. As a cat owner, I observe, in Smith's unwarranted ramblings off-topic, an immensely inaccurate judgement and a sad lack of knowledge and experience with these gentle animals. He calls them non-trustworthy, non-adoring, and non-companiable! He couldn't be more misguided. In all of his writings it has appeared to me that Smith is a promoter of liberality and patience in dealing with ignorance and suggests, instead, pursuing understanding of characters--and, er--pets. While I am content to believe his tribute to dogs as companions is worthy of my respect, I am sad to see that he has never been held accountable for doing the same towards cats.
This book was interesting entertaining, and insightful as always. I can't pinpoint why it wasn't one of the two or three all-time favorites in the Mme Rmatwse saga, perhaps only that two or three al-time favorites can't extend to all. it was a good read, well-worth the time put into listening and learning.
The title does't do this book justice. Destiny of the Republic was an assignment for me, and I didn't really expect much. Now that I've finished, I am so grateful to have learned about this part of my American history that I previously knew next to nothing about. The author does a masterful job of intertwining current events (of the time) with the story of President Garfield and his tragic end. So astonishing for me were the stubborn and prideful ignorance which stood in the way of Garfield's survival and what looked to be a most successful presidency. Destiny of the Republic is a book for me to read, and read again.
I received an education about Australia, whose history I've neglected until now. Conway's upbringing, education, and eventual departure from her homeland is most unique, while generously managing to convey for most readers connections into Conway's experiences and views. "Independent and brave" certainly sums this character's life. The writing is beautifully detailed and poetic, making the listening a delight.
I believe this is an important story to be told. I'm already familiar with the Nez Perce and Chief Joseph saga, so I expected to learn more. I might try it again reading on paper, but as an audio, it was just too detailed and old-fashioned History Class style and I couldn't focus for more than a minute or two when I tried again and again to move forward. I returned the purchase.
I'd heard that this book was important and even life-changing, and it proved true. I'm struggling right now with whether I should get the older ladies in my book club to read it too; but they're a bit squeamish and the book is--well, very true to the late 60s and Vietnam years. That was their time, but I think they missed it overall. Hmmmm, maybe that's the best reason to get us all to read it and see it again, from the true side.
A compelling read that encourages personal and social contemplation. Ivan Doig writes with accurate and compelling description, especially of great Montana. The characters don't play all their cards at once: attention must be given and judgement reserved. I would read this again and recommend it to others. In the end I felt like I knew a place and its people as though I had lived there myself.
Occasionally I get a bit tired of No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books, though after a break I soon return. Morality For Beauitful Girls exceeds any caution I may have held. I believe it presents the maturation of McCall Smith's approach in this series at his best: well-timed and well-tuned wit, character self-analysis in just the right balance with the unfolding narrative, and the presentation of all to admire in Botswanan culture and world outlook. This is the one novel I would recommend to a somewhat reluctant newcomer: "Read this one first and you'll revel and wish to emulate surprising characteristics of Mme Ramatswe, her associates, and one nation's realism mingled with hope."
I read this marvelous book at least twice several years ago, and bought the audible version to get me up to speed for delivering a review. The narration was done years ago (though that's not the problem)--the reader massacres an otherwise superb book. His voice is high and he reads so quickly that for a while I thought perhaps the speed of the original tape had been sped up (I'm still not sure it wasn't). The result is slightly chipmunk-style narration, and in addition, the narrator places the wrong sort of emphasis on the wrong selection of irony, witticism, drama and otherwise marvelous insight. I had so looked forward to hearing one of my all-time favorite books, having mistakingly thought that destroying it wasn't possible. I'm disappointed that no one has noticed this most disappointing delivery and undertaken a more appropriate production. I'm certain that with a quality narrator, COLD SASSY TREE would reembark as an Audible best-seller.
I could probably read this book repeatedly for the rest of my life and end up greatly enriched each time. I suppose I could read anything by Wendell Berry with the same benefit, though it seems I relish his collections of related short stories even more than the novels. They cause healthy reflection about the stories of my own life, and the lives of my fore-fathers, and they cause me to realize (as I suspect Berry intends) that the chronological placement of the various characters and events is not all that important: what matters is the characters and their interrelationships with the land, their community, and the development of understanding.
I noticed that two of the stories in Distant Land were very similar (if not identical) to stories in Fidelity: but I enjoyed them equally in this volume. There is no sentimentality in Berry's writing, though it appears there must be! How does one record stories of a rural homeland with wonderful relationships and even the occasional resolved problem without becoming maudlin? I don't know how this great writer does it, but I'd love to learn: so I continue to order and read (or listen to) his books. As an earlier reviewer states: Berry is a National Treasure.
In addition, Michael Kramer is the most effective narrator possible--I'll likely listen to all the Berry books narrated by him first, and then move on to the others, most of which I admit are also good.
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