Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Underground Railroad

by Colson Whitehead
Mar 19-Apr 9, 2017

Oprah and her magical ability to gain followers to anything and everything she likes or touches (Midas?!). It's been a while since I've read an Oprah-acclaimed book, but this one had been receiving plenty of praise on its own. This may be a terrible thing to say, but I think I am burned out on books about slavery. Granted, this one focused more on the escape than the day-to-day life on a plantation, but it was still difficult reading nonetheless. Cruelty followed slaves everywhere. I'm astonished by the endurance and will to live that these people unfailingly kept up. To read about Cora's burst of luck only to have it stripped away more brutally each time made me truly wonder how she even wanted to live any longer. Terrible thoughts. And thus the burnout on the subject matter. It's exhausting.
“Freedom was a community laboring for something lovely and rare.”
Overall an interesting direction taken by Whitehead – and actual underground railroad. But the storyline was a bit jerky and presented in ways that weren't as successful as they could have been.

* * * * *

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Grace

by Natashia Deón
Feb 15-Mar 4, 2017

I seem to be drawn to books about slavery. But then again, it also seems to be a popular subject among contemporary authors. It must be my love of historical fiction though, because there is no "easy reading" when it comes to the life of a slave and what they had to endure. Literally fearing for their lives every single minute of every single day, plus those of their loved ones. Not to mention rape, beatings, torture; the list goes on. I don't remember how Grace came to be on my radar – maybe it was the 4.1 stars rating on Goodreads – but this beautifully written novel was well worth every minute.

Grace was told from two perspectives: Naomi's life before her daughter's birth and Josey's life after her mother's death. This is no secret ... the first chapter reveals Naomi's murder. The two stories are told in parallel with more and more secrets revealed as the chapters flow from Naomi's "flashes" (the times before her death) to Josey's mental and physical struggles through the Civil War and the emancipation. The unique perspective of Naomi's spirit watching over her daughter was skillfully told and in no way portrayed as a cheesy ghost story (although some reviews I read disagree).
“It’s been said that justice is getting what you deserve. And mercy is not getting the bad you deserve. Grace is getting a good thing, even when you don’t deserve it.”
The conclusion was by no means neat and tidy, but in the end Naomi found a bit of peace.

* * * * *