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Archive for the ‘Historical Fiction’ Category

It was an especially good month for reading, and I can’t wait to share my favorites.  So let’s get to it!
The Homegoing (Gyasi):   In eighteenth century Ghana, two half sisters are dealt completely different hands: Effia becomes the wife of a white military officer while Esi, imprisoned in the bowels of the castle, where she awaits the ship that will take her into slavery.  What comes next are the stories of their descendants.  This inter-generational family saga is an incredible read: Gyasi’s prose is rhythmic and engaging, and I loved how histories build on each other and showed the impact of past and present decisions.  I am not doing this book justice: you should just read it.
Orange: The Complete Collection 1 & 2 (Takano): One day, Naho receives a letter that supposedly comes from her future self; her future self wants her to save Kakeru, a new student who takes his own life.   Initially skeptical, Naho becomes more convinced after the content of her letter proves to be accurate.  Kakeru is a kind boy who fits readily into Naho’s friend group, and Naho finds herself falling for Kakeru.  Naho struggles to follow her letters’ instructions and save Kakeru.   This is a quiet, tender exploration of compassion, friendship, and mental illness.  Takano excels in portraying the character’s emotional states, and the soft line-work complements the slower, pace.  While the plot gets a bit tangled at times (not sure because of the translation or my own reading), the message of the importance of caring rings loud and clear.
Lazarus, 1-3(Rucka et al.): Forever Caryle is a Lazarus, a genetically modified super soldier, who is obligated to protect the interests of her family, who oversees a powerful empire, where those who are not Family must scrabble for an existence, and hold the secret to an ageless existence.   One day, Forever receives an email claiming she is not of the Family.  Despite that, Forever’s got a job to do: the other Families are challenging the Caryle family, and Forever must help to see them through.   I cannot get enough of this comic series; the artwork is amazing, the story engaging, and the world-building superb.  Forever is a compelling heroine whose conflicting obligations and compassion make her a fascinating character to follow.   I will definitely be keeping an eye on this series.
Unfinished Business (Slaughter): Ann-Marie Slaughter served under Hilary Clinton as the first female director of policy planning, but then made the decision to quit after two years in order to be with her family.  Slaughter uses her story as a jumping-off point to discuss workplace culture and the struggle that is work-life balance.  She compellingly argues that a lack of emphasis on care has negatively impacted both men and women and individuals at all socioeconomic levels.  Unfinished Business expertly articulates a lot of my concerns about current values surrounding work.  If you’re curious about any of these issues, you should definitely check this out.
That’s all for this month.  Tune in next month for more recommendations!
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As his father dies, Henry is freed by abolitionist John Brown, a Christian man determined to rid the United States of the evil practice of slavery.   After accidentally eating John Brown’s good luck charm, Henry becomes Henrietta–or Onion–and Brown’s good luck charm.  Caught up in Brown’s schemes, Henry rides all over Kansas and eastern United States with John Brown and his band of outlaw abolitionists in his quest to abolish slavery.

I greatly enjoyed this book.  Onion is a superbly crafted narrator, and his pointed observations and personal struggles carry the book, which otherwise may have taken too long to get to the main goal of the story, John Brown’s ultimate plan to overthrow slavery.   I was enthralled by the contrast between Henry’s personal reluctance and others’ reactions to his actions.   These contrasts and Onion’s observations about the other characters also bring life to this story.

McBride’s vivid descriptions and language also make this book engaging.   Henry’s narrative voice–an unpolished way of speaking– was well-done and helped to draw me into the story.  When I put down the book to do other things, my inner dialogue would often sound like the unpolished diction in the story.   Because of that, I could not wait to get back to the book.

In short, you do not want to miss this book.  

 

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During World War II, the Rosati family, a well-off Tuscan family, struggled to maintain a semblance of normalcy as the Nazis struggle out the last days of their reign.  The Rosati family is caught in that final firefight and fall from glory, their estate in flames.  In 1955, someone has begun to kill off the remainder of the family.  Detective Serafina, who has scars of her own, is assigned to protect the remaining Rosatis and catch the murderer before he finishes off the entire family.

Bohjalian’s novel is an exciting foray into life in Italy during the second World War II.   Like in Sandcastle Girls, Bohjalian brings to life a unique perspective on a significant piece of history.   Bohjalian is skilled at creating sympathetic characters, and this book was no different.   The murder mystery added an extra dollop of excitement.   This book was a treat to read, and I highly recommend it for mystery lovers and historical aficionados alike.

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