Friday, May 22, 2009

The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs

From the Publishers:

The "New York Times" bestselling sensation that''s ""Steel Magnolias" set in Manhattan" ("USA Today")-now in paperback. Juggling the demands of her yarn shop and single-handedly raising a teenage daughter has made Georgia Walker grateful for her Friday Night Knitting Club. Her friends are happy to escape their lives too, even for just a few hours. But when Georgia''s ex suddenly reappears, demanding a role in their daughter''s life, her whole world is shattered. Luckily, Georgia''s friends are there, sharing their own tales of intimacy, heartbreak, and miracle making. And when the unthinkable happens, these women will discover that what they''ve created isn''t just a knitting club: it''s a sisterhood.

My Thoughts:

It took me a little time to get into this book. I wasn't quite sure in the beginning but by the end of the book I actually found my self on a city bus trying not to cry so as not to look like a total dud. By the end of the book I was really fascinated by the dynamics of the characters in the book. I was also a surprised by the ending (which I'll keep to myself for those of you who haven't read the book). The thing that took me a while to get into the book was the fact that at some points in the book you are made to think that you know something when it has never been explicitly stated. I could be wrong on the following example but I did find myself going back to reread at certain points. The daughter in the book is bi-racial. Maybe this is a small tidbit that I missed when they were describing Georgia's relationship with James but I at one point I found myself asking if I knew James was African American or not. Other than this, I really enjoyed the book. I found the characters endearing and it makes you feel as if ever after many years redemption is still possible. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam

From the Publishers:

Rehana Haque, a young widow, blissfully prepares for the party she will host for her son and daughter. But this is 1971 in East Pakistan, and change is in the air.

Set against the backdrop of the Bangladesh War of Independence, A Golden Age is a story of passion and revolution; of hope, faith, and unexpected heroism in the midst of chaos—and of one woman's heartbreaking struggle to keep her family safe

What I think:

I really enjoyed reading this book. It made me realize how lucky I was to live in a country that is not plagued by civil war, a country that is blessed with riches. I really enjoyed the descriptions of a city torn in war and the descriptions of the refugee camp in India. While the book was powerful, I did have some problems with main character Rehana. I found that she never really questioned her son and his guerilla friends. Most of the characters find the injustice of the government to be atrocious but they never question their actions. For example at one point in the novel, Rehana son goes with the guerilla army and blows up an entire building as a message to the government saying we want a free Bangladesh but they never think of this as a tragedy. I can't help but wonder how many innocent people were or could have been killed during this event. I can't decide if it's Rehana's blinding love for her son or her need to keep questions like this in the dark in order to survive the war. The book centers on Rehana's family life but I also wish there would have been more of a historical description of the tensions in Bangladesh. The book glosses over the background information. Overall, I was immersed in this book and I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

The Manny by Holly Peterson

From the Publishers:
What’s a Park Avenue working mom to do when her troubled son desperately needs a male role model and her husband is a power workaholic? If she’s like Jamie Whitfield, the gutsy heroine of Holly Peterson’s astute new comedy of manners among the ill-mannered elite, she does what every other woman down the block does. She hires herself a manny. Peter Bailey is cool, competent, and so charmingly down-to-earth, he’s irresistible. And with the political sex scandal of the decade propelling her career as a news producer into overdrive, and her increasingly erratic husband locked in his study with suspicious files, Jamie is in serious need of some grounding.

Peter reminds her of everything she once was, still misses, and underneath all the high-society glitz, still is. The question is: Will the new manny in her life put the ground back beneath her feet, or sweep her off them?

My Thoughts:
I ended up reading this in one day. It was an easy read and if you're looking for something fun and mindless then this is a book for you. I have to say that while I enjoyed reading this book the main character bothered me. She couldn't make up her mind and never stood up for herself. Even at the very end when she has made the obvious decision, she remains ambiguous about her decision. The ended also left too much to the imagination. It doesn't tie things up at all. The title character was endearing and always held strong to what he believed in. I give this book 2.5 stars out of 5.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill

From the Publishers:

Abducted as an 11-year-old child from her village in West Africa and forced to walk for months to the sea in a coffle—a string of slaves— Aminata Diallo is sent to live as a slave in South Carolina. But years later, she forges her way to freedom, serving the British in the Revolutionary War and registering her name in the historic “Book of Negroes.” This book, an actual document, provides a short but immensely revealing record of freed Loyalist slaves who requested permission to leave the US for resettlement in Nova Scotia, only to find that the haven they sought was steeped in an oppression all of its own. Aminata’s eventual return to Sierra Leone—passing ships carrying thousands of slaves bound for America—is an engrossing account of an obscure but important chapter in history that saw 1,200 former slaves embark on a harrowing back-to-Africa odyssey.

Lawrence Hill is a master at transforming the neglected corners of history into brilliant imaginings, as engaging and revealing as only the best historical fiction can be. A sweeping story that transports the reader from a tribal African village to a plantation in the southern United States, from the teeming Halifax docks to the manor houses of London, The Book of Negroes introduces one of the strongest female characters in recent Canadian fiction, one who cuts a swath through a world hostile to her colour and her sex.

My Review:

This book was amazing. I could not put this book down. The book told the story of Meena from childhood to old age perfectly. While reading you couldn't help but wonder how on earth such atrocities could have occurred. This character was stolen from her land, sold and was forced to give up her freedom and eventually had both her children stolen from her. While all this is going on in her life Meena continues to assert her sense of agency. She seeks out education and books and eventually gives the same education to those around her. She finds her way back home after everyone says it will be impossible. The courage and strength of this character is admirable and I could not find one negative thing to say about the way her story was told. While this is a work of fiction it really helps you to reflect on what life would have been like for a person of colour back in these times. I give this book a 5 out of 5.