Sunday, June 25, 2017


by Yaa Gyasi
May 29-June25, 2017

Quite an epic amount of history in a short 300 pages! I think this novel is bigger and better than its brevity. From the beginning of slavery in Ghana through present day, the author takes the reader on a journey through seven generations. Each chapter told from a different descendent's point of view, it's merely a taste of the lives they led. I understand the formula the author intended, but as each story is rather short, I always found myself wanting more. Some stories were more successful and interesting than others. Those were, of course, what I wanted more of. The story of "H" was my favorite.

Although the historic importance was so great, the prose was very easy to read. But, after a while, I was bored. Hence the month it took me to get through it. Gyasi's plan for the chapters was a good one, I just found it to be a little monotonous after a while. I did have to refer back to the family tree at the beginning a few times, which may speak to the complexity of the familial line.

In the penultimate chapter, Marjorie sums up her lineage perfectly and with poise in this poem:
Split the Castle
find me, find you.
We, two, felt sand,
wind, air.
One felt whip.
once shipped.
We, two, black.
Me, you.
One grew from
cocoa's soil, birthed
from nut,
skin uncut, still
We, two, wade.
The waters seem
but are same.
Our same. Sister
Who knew? Not me.
Not you.
Really, an excellent synopsis of this family's 250 years.

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Sunday, June 4, 2017


by Jung Yun
May 14-23, 2017

No doubt did I tear through Shelter at a crazy pace, so kudos to Yun on his first novel. I'm not sure if my lack of knowledge on Korean culture can be blamed for some of my disconnect to the characters, but without a doubt, the main character was indeed a whiny, spineless loser. Truly pitiful. There was absolutely nothing redeeming about him – a brave move for a first-time author. I didn't even want to like him and never found myself rooting for him. Yet the story sweeps you in immediately and held my interest until the end.  I did enjoy it, but mostly in a watching-a-train-wreck kind of way. The book jacket boasts a "startling conclusion" but I think it was expected. Not in a bad way necessarily, but in an "of course" way. The ending started to become a bit tidy, but also fairly abrupt too. Even though you knew that Kyung is f-ed overall, we don't really find out to what extent.

Overall, entertaining dysfunction.

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