“Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi: Book Review

 

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I decided to finish reading the last couple of pages of this book at work during my extended lunch break. And, now I’m in tears. This book took me on an emotional roller coaster. Given the racial climate here in the states, “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi was almost too much for me to bear. At times, I had to put the book down to catch my breath. Homegoing is about two sisters with very different journeys on two different continents. One sister, Effia,  was married off to a British slave master while the other sister, Esi, was sold into slavery forcing her to brave the middle passage. We go on a journey from the Ghana coast to the Harlem concrete.

Each chapter was from the point of view from a family member from each half sister’s lineage. Yaa Gyasi really delves into how everyone played a part in the slave trade; the British, missionaries, and the Africans. I cringed as people were forced into slavery so easily due to any battle lost. Sometimes I wonder if things would have been different if the Africans knew of the horrors their people would face in America. Even though this book spoke of the degradation of slavery, each chapter was also peppered with beautiful sad love stories. I learned many things about the British and how they interacted with the African people. They often married the local women while on the coast to do their slave trading business because they were away from their homes for long periods of time. I also learned about how superstitious Africans were and how those ideas can shape someone’s life into a nightmare. Marriage was also an important theme in this book. I got a clear understanding of how marriage was approached back in the 18 century and how it changed throughout the generations.

My only gripe with this book, along with many others, is that it’s not long enough. I needed more details about the lives of each character. Basically, Yaa Gyasi left us wanting more. The love of Kojo and Anna was the most beautiful and tragic of them all. This couple deserves a book all their own. I was amazed at the strength of the characters. I often wondered if I were put in these situations if I would have survived. Would I still be able to love? I’m still not sure. This book is as beautiful as it’s UK book cover. I give it 5 stars out of 5.

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“The Underground Railroad” Book Review

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Life almost made the completion of this read impossible. I was supposed to read this book for Diverse-A-Thon, but it didn’t make it. “The New Edition Story” 3-night miniseries happened and I went down memory lane which took me away from my reading.

Colson Whitehead takes the idea of the underground railroad, which are pathways with safe houses to aide slaves helping them to enter free states, and makes it into an actual underground railroad. Each destination of the underground railroad revealed a different world racially. Certain states were more accepting of blacks escaping than others. This story follows a slave, Cora, in her perseverance to gain freedom from slavery. Cora’s determination for freedom is as relentless as the slave catcher’s desire to capture her to return her to bondage. It seemed that every time Cora started to relax, her past reached out to pull her back to slavery. Along her journey to freedom we are introduced to many characters. Abolitionists and sympathizers along the way were also treated as subhuman if they were caught harboring slaves.

I walked away from this book thinking about freedom. What is freedom? Does attaining freedom bring about danger due to its ability to precipitate contentment? Do you still have freedom if there are people willing and able to take it away? Is freedom a state of mind or a tangible destination?  It was amazing to me how preoccupied white people in antebellum south were with keeping track of black people. Slave catchers were willing to travel thousands of miles to bring slaves back to their owners. How far are you willing to go to acquire freedom?

“Whether in the fields or underground or in an attic room, America remained her warden.” The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead

The writing was very graphic at times, and it should be given the content. To be honest, I felt that the book could have been longer. Many vloggers and bloggers have spoken of the coldness of the narrator. And, I agree. Overall, I really enjoyed this read. I gave this book 4 stars out of 5.

“We Are The Ants” Book Review

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Henry is constantly getting abducted by aliens. His mother is a stressed out chain smoker. His grandmother is developing Alzheimer’s. His brother is about to have a baby with his girlfriend. And, his boyfriend committed suicide.Yes. Henry Denton has a sucky life. This review will have spoilers, because I need to get some things off my chest. You have been warned.

I hate this book. Henry whines during the entire book about how it was his fault that his boyfriend killed himself. He clearly suffers from Stockholm syndrome. This guy Marcus, he was dating, berates him, insults him, harasses him, and even physically abuses him along with his friends. And, every single time Henry goes back to Marcus to comfort HIM. I was disgusted by this book. Henry had the audacity to call a close friend psycho who he thought was defending him while at the same time making excuses for Marcus using him as a punching bag. And, to top it all off, his abusive brother beats him up too. I didn’t know someone could get beat up that many times.

There are only like 2 chapters in the whole book about him getting abducted by aliens. The aliens abduct him because they have chosen him to determine if the earth is worth saving from annihilation. The rest of the book is just Henry drenched in self-loathing while he abrasively tramples over the lives of others close to him. No matter what is going on in the lives of others, he always manages to turn it back around to his questions about the earth’s worth and his issues with not knowing why his boyfriend killed himself. Basically, he was leaning toward allowing the world to be destroyed because HE didn’t want to live. So, yeah, let’s just kill everyone.

I get what the author was trying to do. The author was trying to show how destroyed Henry was that his boyfriend killed himself, but it didn’t translate well. This book gets high ratings on Goodreads and I don’t understand why. For me, it’s hard to rate a book with a high rating when I hate the main character along with the story entirely. All this book left me wondering was why the so-called aliens abducted such a pathetic human being to decide the worlds fate.  In the end, Henry being abducted by aliens wasn’t even real. The premise of the aliens abducting him was the main reason I picked up this book. Clearly, I gave this book 2 stars out of 5. I didn’t give it a 1 star rating because it obviously succeeded in extracting emotions out of me.

“The Unseen World” Book Review

26530317Ada has to be the coolest laid back 12 year old ever. (aside from my daughter, of course) David, her father, is an excellent computer scientist who homeschools Ada. He takes her to work with him in the computer lab and allows her to be influenced by his co-workers. Due to her exposure to his world, she is a lot smarter than other kids her age. After David develops Alzheimer’s disease, it’s discovered that his past is quite controversial. It seems that he is not who they thought he was. Virtual reality also plays a huge part in this book.

This book receives high ratings on Goodreads and rave reviews on youtube. I was a bit skeptical, but I decided to place it on hold at my local library. It turns out that Liz Moore proves to be an excellent storyteller. Usually, it takes me a week to finish reading a book.  It only took me a few days to finish this one. This book is quite long, but you won’t feel it dragging. The pacing is perfection. I never felt bored. There were no filler chapters, in my opinion. Every piece of information was vital to the story. The chapters were short so you always got the feeling of progression. I really enjoyed the relationships between humans and machines in this story. The theme of love overlaps throughout this book: the love of father and daughter, computer love, forbidden love from the past, and a love that was there the whole time.

Even though the book was narrated by a child, I never had an eye rolling moment. Ada was very mature and it was a pleasure to see the world through her eyes. I soaked up all the information trying to piece together David’s mysterious past. It felt like I was a part of the investigation. This book is not predictable. Nothing happened the way I thought it would.  I encourage you all to pick this book up. You will not be disappointed. Of course, I gave this book 5 stars out of 5 on Goodreads.

“The Picture of Dorian Gray” Book Review

9780375751516I finished reading this book last week. It took me some time to get my thoughts together on what I felt about this book. The story is about a young very attractive man, named Dorian Gray, who sits for his portrait to be painted by Basil. After being influenced by the philosophies of the painter’s friend, Lord Henry, Dorian begins to be troubled by the reality that his beauty will one day wither away. He becomes jealous of the painting and unknowingly casts a spell on himself and the painting by wishing that the painting will grow old while he remains young and beautiful.

Dorian seemed to be an empty vessel not having ideas or beliefs of his own. It was easy for Lord Henry’s unorthodox philosophies to negatively influence Dorian shaping his ideas, opinions and character. After Dorian hurt someone very dear to him, he later notices that the painting has altered in its appearance. With every evil act and as time passed the painting altered to display his true demons and aging while he stayed young and attractive.

This book was written in the 19 century, so the writing was wordy and a bit challenging at times. I found myself stopping to look up words to get an understanding of what was being said.  The middle portion of the book was the hardest to get through. Around chapter 11 I almost stopped reading due to boredom. Oscar Wilde unnecessarily elaborated on insignificant aspects of Dorian’s life while leaving out vital parts of his life that would have painted a better picture of how far he slid down the rabbit hole of evil.

Overall, Lord Henry proved to be the most interesting character in this book with his many interesting epigrams on life. Dorian was annoying with how easily he was manipulated. One thing I found very interesting was how Dorian attempted to confess, towards the end, some of the evil things he was doing. Those closest to him refused to believe him because they couldn’t pass over his good looks to see his true character. This theme in the book made me think of how superficial society is today and how a pretty appearance easily garners praise without deep examination of the character.  I gave this book 3 stars out of 5 because I found it to be wordy and very boring. In my opinion, it took Oscar Wilde too long to get to the point and the ending was blatantly obvious.

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“The Age of Miracles” Review

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I found out about this book from Jen Campbell on Youtube. In the video, she and Sanne were giving apocalyptic fiction recommendations. I trust Jen’s recommendations because she recommended “The Beauty” and I ended up loving it as well. Apocalyptic fiction is becoming one of my favorites. “The Age of Miracles” is labeled as an adult book even though the main character is only 11 years old. This book follows Julia through her experience with school, family, and ‘the slowing’ plaguing the earth. The earth’s rotation slows down and we get to see how it affects the earth and those occupying it. All kinds of ripple effects occur with the animals, people getting sick due to the earth’s faulty gravitational pull, and crops because of the lack of sunlight. The people start to panic and react to the long nights and long days.

I flew through this book. I’m a slow reader and it only took me 3 days to read this novel. That is fast for me. The pacing was perfect. It was interesting to see how people changed as the minutes were added to each day. New relationships were created, old relationships died away, and strange behavior ensued. I enjoyed the different characters, even the ones that annoyed me. The author’s obsession with eucalyptus trees was kind of strange. The trees were referenced like on every other page. That became kind of redundant, but other than that this book is a solid 4 stars out of 5.

“Soundless” Book Review

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I really had high hopes for this book. When I discovered that this book was coming out some time last year, I was both disappointed and intrigued. This book appealed to me because I had this deep desire to write about a woman who could control sound. Sound is a sensitive topic for me and I get very passionate about those around me who are abusive with sound. I guess I still can continue to do so. This book is not about being able to control sound.  The story is about a young lady regaining her hearing among a village of people who have all lost their hearing. She goes on a quest to find answers and to save the people in her village. I just didn’t enjoy this one like I thought I would. The ending was very slow. Turning the pages became harder and harder toward the end of the book. I probably should have given it a 2 out of 5 stars. But, I gave this book 3 stars out of 5 because it just didn’t have a strong story to go along with the hype. It took me almost a month to read this book and it’s only two hundred and something pages. It may have something to do with me and my inability to read fast especially when I’m not into the story.

Rated: 3 out of 5 stars.