Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Nevermore: Confucius, Berg, Dumpty, Hensen, Hurston, Kidd, Turner, and more!

Reported by Laura

            Our first reviewer read a Hallmark Book of Best-Loved Poems. Some were good and some not so much.  However, a few were found to be quite beautiful and moving. One of which was The Builders of Longfellow.

            The next book was Analects of Confucius. It was a good read and can be done a little at a time, so that it’s not overwhelming. This book club member said he had joined to elevate his mind. This particular offering did just that. He found that there were a lot of ideas that predated Christ, which led him to believe there was more intellectual flow from the East than first thought.

            Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick by Zora Neale Hurston is a wonderful book that might be difficult for some people to read, as the dialect is very heavy. It has the Southern Black rhythm and punch and our reviewer absolutely loved it! This is the same author who wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God and she is a brilliant storyteller. This offering was described as almost like a Black’s Aesop Fables as it is a conglomerate of stories from the Deep South.

            Trevor Ferguson is a Canadian author who writes in a soft, poetic style. The River Burns is set in a small town in Canada where there is a dispute among the townspeople concerning a historic single-lane covered bridge that must be crossed to enter or leave the town. The loggers want it replaced with a modern alternative, while others in the community want its history preserved. The dispute turns into a heated, and eventually violent, argument. It’s a long book, but our reviewer couldn’t put it down. She loves the way the author writes. On a side note, some of his previous novels have been made into movies, one of which is The Timekeeper.

            The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd is historical fiction based on fact. Set in Charleston, SC, it tells the story of two young girls, each from opposing cultures, who are thrown together against their will. Sarah is gifted her own personal slave on her eleventh birthday. She is appalled by slavery and wants to refuse the gift, but is unable to do so. Hetty “Handful” Grimke is taken from the slave quarters wrapped in ribbon and presented to her new master. Surprisingly, they grow to develop a close bond. As one of the passages states, “My body may be a slave, but not my mind.” Our reviewer really liked this book and found it to be an encouraging story.

            These is My Words by Nancy E. Turner is the diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901. It is based on the memoirs of the author’s own family who traveled west, facing Apache attacks and all of the other hardships involved in such a dangerous journey. Sarah is an independent, strong woman who can shoot and take care of herself on the trail. Throughout the journey, she finds herself falling in love with the captain leading the team and their relationship is an important part of the story. Our reviewer found it to be a wonderful book and she highly recommends it.

            Our next reviewer found the book, Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper to be a very weird book that she isn’t sure she would recommend. It tells the story of Etta, an 82 year-old woman suffering from dementia, who decides to leave her husband, Otto, at home and travel to the ocean that she’s never seen. Starting out with a note in her pocket to remind her of who she is and where she lives, along with chocolate, a knife, and a book, she embarks on her 2,000 mile journey. Along the way, she meets a coyote she befriends and names James, who joins her on her journey.  She sends letters back to her husband, but it is their neighbor, Russell, who has always loved her, who comes looking for her. Several members of the book club thought the book sounded interesting and expressed an interest in trying it.

            Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls had been reviewed before and enjoyed, but this week’s reviewer hated the book. This is by the same author who wrote The Glass Castle and tells the story of the author’s maternal grandmother. Even though she provided money and housing at times for the family, she was always resented by the author’s mother for telling her not to marry her husband; branding him as a flake. The reviewer found it stupid and senseless. She felt the fact that the photo on the cover was one taken by a depression-era photographer and not a picture of the actual family in the story was telling. She definitely wouldn’t recommend.

            Even though Onward: A Photobiography of African-American Polar Explorer Matthew Henson by Delores Johnson is listed as a juvenile book, our reviewer found it fascinating. Mr. Henson was chosen from many applicants to assist Robert E. Peary on his expedition to the North Pole. He was an invaluable asset as he made friends with the Inuits, learned the language, and studied how to expertly care for the dog team. Due to his race, his contributions were not initially recognized and it took a long time for history to hail him as a hero.

            Dumpty by John Lithgow has been enjoyed by many members of the book club and this week’s reviewer was no exception. She found the artwork in this satirical poetry offering to be wonderful. Her favorite of all was the picture of Pence sitting on a fence. She said this was definitely her kind of poetry!

            Another book that has been reviewed by several members is The Confession Club by Elizabeth Berg. Most have greatly enjoyed the book, but this week’s reviewer had a different take on this story of a group of friends who meet weekly to share their deepest secrets. She found it vapid and ridiculous and felt it should have been listed as a juvenile book. She found nothing redeeming about it and couldn’t finish it.

            Also by Elizabeth Berg, The Art of Mending was reviewed by a different member who felt it wasn’t the best written book, but she did finish it. In this story, Laura Bartone is looking forward to her annual meeting with her siblings as they return to their parent’s home to attend the state fair. This year, however, she senses a change in her sister, Caroline, when they meet. The very first night, she shares with Laura and her brother, Steve, some devastating allegations about their mother, which questions the memories of all of the siblings.

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