Friday, June 28, 2019

Nevermore: Ward, Adichie, Carter, Kelly, Sides, Lewis

Reported by Ambrea
This week, Nevermore kicked off their meeting with Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward.  Jojo is thirteen-years-old and struggling to understand what it means to be a man.  With an incarcerated father, a drug-addicted mother, and an absent grandfather, he’s trying to learn and survive; luckily, he has his mother’s father, Pop, to teach him—and the ghosts from the past to help him learn.  Our reader said Sing, Unburied, Sing was a beautifully written novel.  “It’s a beautiful book about a young boy going through’s a story of survival,” she commented.  She thoroughly enjoyed it and she highly recommended it to her fellow readers.

Next, Nevermore checked out Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which tells the interweaving stories of Ifemelu and Obinze.  Ifemelu and Obinze, a young couple who fall in love military-ruled Nigeria, decide to leave their homeland in search of better lives; however, when Ifemelu reaches America, their plans are derailed and they find themselves separated by a vast ocean.  Our reader originally picked up the book, because it appeared on a list of favorite books from Barack Obama.  Sadly, she found she did not enjoy Americanah as much as the former president.  She thought it could have been a good book, but she found she wasn’t a fan of the main character, Ifemelu.  Although it was a well-written book, she said it wasn’t her cup of tea and she was content with leaving it unfinished.

Switching gears to nonfiction, Nevermore also took a look at Invisible:  The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America’s Most Powerful Mobster by Stephen L. Carter.  In this book, Carter explores the extraordinary life of his grandmother and America’s first black female prosecutors, Eunice Hunton Carter.  Eunice became involved in the arrest and prosecution of Lucky Luciano, one of the most powerful mob bosses in history, and was integral to devising strategies and piecing together information that would see the mobster behind bars.  Our reader said she was a little ambivalent about the style and writing of the book; however, she noted the story was great and she loved the concept.  Although she wasn’t a fan of some of the speculation the author makes, she found it to be an interesting book and recommended it to her fellow history buffs.

Next, Nevermore shared Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly, author of The Lilac Girls.  In Lost Roses, readers meet Eliza Ferriday and Sofya Streshnayva, a cousin of the Romanovs.  Together, the duo explore Russia on the trip of a lifetime—until Austria declares war on Serbia and Russia’s imperial dynasty begins to crumble.  Our reader, who previously enjoyed The Lilac Girls, found Lost Roses to be a bit of a disappointment.  She said the characters were not likable people.  “It was way into the back [of the book] before you even like them,” she told her fellow readers.  Despite being closely based on history, the story felt terribly contrived and uninteresting.  She did not recommend it.

Returning to nonfiction, Nevermore explored Hellhound on His Trail:  The Electrifying Account of the Largest Manhunt in American History by Hampton Sides.  On April 4, 1968, James Earl Ray shot Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lorrain Motel—and promptly fled to Canada and then England.  His actions spurred one of the largest manhunts in the history of North America and a media frenzy.  Our reader said Sides book was incredibly well researched and absolutely fascinating.  “It gives you context [for the time period],” she told her fellow readers.  It was also a fascinating account of James Earl Ray that offered glimpses into his history, as well insight into the Civil Rights movement.

Nevermore rounded out their meeting with another nonfiction book, The Improbable Wendell Willkie:  The Businessman Who Saved the Republican Party and His Country, and Conceived a New World Order by David Levering Lewis.  Wendell Willkie was an American businessman, who rose to prominence as the Republican candidate for president in 1940.  Although he would ultimately lose to Franklin D. Roosevelt, Willkie would gain a foothold in and help revitalize the Republican party with new ideas, including civil rights reform, internationalism, and more.  Our read found Lewis’s book to be very interesting.  She noted it had lots of footnotes—much more than she expected, she admitted—and it would sometimes grow a little wordy and dry; however, she enjoyed it overall and she recommended it to readers with an interest in World War II politics.

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