Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Nevermore: This Tender Land, Simon Bolivar, White Fragility, I Could Pee on This, Half Broke Horses, Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas

Reported by Laura        

   Nevermore had good attendance and good spirits this week as they read a wide range of books and enjoyed most of them.

            The first book reviewed was This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger. This beautifully written book is narrated by Odie, a rambunctious orphan placed in a Native American home in Minnesota. He and his brother, Albert, find themselves the only white children at the Lincoln School, which is generally used as a place where Native American children are forced to reside apart from their families. Odie makes friends with Mose, a mute boy at the school, but due to his personality and rebellious behavior, Odie is many times taken to the “Quiet Room” where he is abused by the school administrator. During these dark times, he makes friends with a mouse in the room. When the mouse dies, Odie feels this is the sign he needs to move on and find a family. He, Albert, Mose, and Emmy, the daughter of a teacher who had treated him with kindness, escape and begin a journey down America’s great rivers searching for a home. Times are tough as this is during the Great Depression and many times food is hard to come by. At times, Odie begins to wonder if life was better at Lincoln where at least they were never hungry. The reviewer loved this book so much she wanted to reopen it and read it again.

            The next book, set in the 1800’s, was Simon Bolivar by John Lynch. This fascinating nonfiction offering told the story of the revolutionary known as The Liberator. He was responsible for freeing six countries from Spanish Rule, one exception being Peru. Mr. Bolivar crossed the Andes Mountains covering more ground than any other person. He was appointed dictator of Venezuela for two years, though refused to serve any longer as he did not believe in one person having absolute power. The reviewer described this book as excellent and well worth a read.

            I Could Pee on This was a light-hearted offering by Francesco Marciuliano, author of the Sally Forth cartoons. It includes not only hilarious poems written by cats, but beautiful accompanying pictures. The reviewer enjoyed the book and felt it was nice to read something light to distract from the chaos in the world.

            Next, White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo was reviewed. The author leads workshops on the topic and the reviewer felt a study group on the book would be beneficial. One of the areas covered was how whites respond if challenged on racism. Most go into a defensive mode, which makes the whole cycle worse. This book led to a very lively discussion on the topic of racism and the sad fact that it still exists abundantly even today. 

            Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle, was the next book reviewed. Listed as a true life novel, it is based on Ms. Walls’ maternal grandmother, Lily Casey Smith. It’s a wonderful book set in Texas in the 1900’s. By six years of age, Ms. Smith was helping her father break horses. At the age of 15, this amazing woman traveled 500 miles on a pony to reach the destination of a teaching job. Ms. Smith led a wild life, overcoming many obstacles, and the reviewer felt it was a book that all would enjoy. This book has been described as Laura Ingalls Wilder for adults.

            Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas by Tom Robbins was a disappointment to the reader. She formerly loved Mr. Robbins’ books, but felt that, though this one had clever language, it was a little too wild for her taste. This outrageous novel tells the story of a young stockbroker’s three-day weekend after the market crashes on the Thursday before Easter and it is a crazy ride.

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