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Review: South of Broad, Pat Conroy

Leopard Bloom King is an awkward, ugly 18-year-old with few friends.  His life has been a mess ever since his brother, Stephen, killed himself at only ten years old.  After spending years in mental institutions and later caught with cocaine in his pocket, Leo’s life has been anything but normal.  In the summer before his senior year of high school, he meets the people who will influence the rest of his life, forming friendships and bonds that will prove stronger than anything Leo has known previously.  Years later, their friendship will remain of primary importance to Leo as he and they must endure extraordinary hardships brought on by nature, the human mind, and a terrible disease.

My only previous experience with Pat Conroy was The Water Is Wide, a memoir that I just adored in high school, and I’ve meant to read more by him ever since.  So when I opened this book, it was with a great deal of anticipation.  And I enjoyed this story; the beginning feels slow and meandering, accustoming readers to the feel and the flow of South Carolina and the beginning of teenage friendships that are meant to last.  The second section is more exciting and begins to encompass the troubles that these friendships have wrought even as they have brought blessings.  The third section gives us another peek into the origin of the group, and the final section includes their pivotal struggle against a madman and a hurricane.

The story is indeed big and sprawling as the back cover promises, but I still wanted more.  Largely, I wanted more of the origins of these friendships.  I still found it hard to understand why they all coped with Chad, a member of the arrogant Southern aristocracy determined to put everyone down, or some of the other members of the group.  I saw how they came together, but I suppose I didn’t understand how it lasted for all of the members of this group.  Their conversations were entertaining, but rang somewhat untrue for me, and I just couldn’t believe anyone like Sheba Poe actually existed.  Who stage manages their entry into a house party of close friends?  The later sections were powerful, but without that essential basis, at times I couldn’t believe in the story.

And that’s a shame, because the story is quite a wild ride through almost every issue you can name.  The friends go in search of a missing member of the group and have to deal with death, rape, adultery, and murder among their ranks.  They even have a natural disaster pitted against them.  The book resonates with the strength and feel of Charleston, a place I’ve never been to but would quite like to visit now.  Conroy is an excellent writer and can make the words on the page simply come alive, even as he packs the story full with almost too much trauma.

South of Broad is a good book that, I think, has unfortunately missed being great.  Still, I am encouraged to read more of Conroy’s works, as I think he is an excellent writer and is still worth my time.

I am an Amazon Associate. I received this book for free from the publisher for review here.

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Review: The Road Home, Rose Tremain

After losing his job and his wife, Lev leaves his little daughter with his mother and sets off for London to find work and support his family.  By a lucky chance, he meets a woman on the bus who helps him find a job after a brief period of homelessness.  Working in the kitchen of an elite restaurant, Lev learns that he loves to cook and carefully observes the chef and other workers to glean their skills.  Through a relationship with his co-worker and a path to success in his new career, Lev begins to understand the wider world while growing to appreciate and love his home even more.

I felt a little uncertain about this book while I was reading it and I still do now.  I’m not quite sure how to review it because it’s one of those books that I liked but didn’t really like that much.  The best part, clearly, was Lev’s sense of accomplishment and his ambition once he realized what he really wanted out of his life.  I love to read about ambitious, goal-oriented, determined people.  Obviously life gets in the way sometimes, but I can identify with them the best.  Unfortunately, however, Lev also seems to have a somewhat ignorant or cruel streak towards women.  He does not want a relationship after his wife, so he rebuffs one woman, but then he finds another, decides he’s in love with her, and ends up treating her quite badly when things don’t end the way he expects.  The girl is partly at fault for leading him on, but all of his relationships with women bothered me.

I did like the entire theme of home running through this novel.  Even when Lev makes a groove for himself in London, he still misses the people and the place that is his home.  Eventually he realizes that it’s the people and not the place itself, but that doesn’t stop him from trying to do his best for his home country and making a difference for his family.  The title is really well chosen; even though Lev starts out leaving home, the entire novel is at the core about his journey returning and how he’s going to get there as a more successful man than when he left.

I’m still a little on the fence about whether to recommend this book or not.  It is one of those difficult reads that falls in the middle, that I know I’m supposed to love but I didn’t manage it.  I think if this review intrigues you, the book is probably still worth investigating.

IndieBound | Powell’s | Amazon | Amazon UK

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Review: Dragon House, John Shors

When Iris’s father dies, she finds that she wants to continue his legacy by establishing his children’s center in Vietnam.    The center was not completed and Iris decides to abandon her career as newspaper book reviewer and fly to Vietnam to help.  She takes her neighbor Noah with her, a man impaired both physically and mentally from his experience in the Iraq War, in the hopes that a purpose will give his life meaning and direction.  In Saigon, Iris and Noah are amazed by the kindness and warmth of the Vietnamese and the clever street children, who quickly realize the goals of the center and wish to be enrolled.  In this cutthroat world, however, it isn’t all as easy as it should be, and Iris and Noah find themselves fighting to save the children they come to love.

It seems to me that this is a book about hope.  Iris hopes to build a center beyond all the others, to truly educate girls and make them into productive and happy citizens.  Noah eventually learns to hope again through Thien, who is at peace with the universe.  The children all hope to be let into the center, so they have a chance for a brighter future.  Everyone is making something better, whether it’s themselves or society, and the entire book has a bright, cheerful message in the end.

While Iris and Noah are admirable people, it is really the street children who make this book the wonderful read it is.  There are three children who are really focused on, Minh, Mai, and Tam.  Minh and Mai are brother and sister; Minh doesn’t talk, has only one hand, and plays connect four with tourists to earn money, while Mai acts as his voice and sells fans.  They are bright, innovative children and it’s impossible not to completely fall in love with them and hope that they can seize a brighter future through Iris and Noah.  Unfortunately, they have a more powerful man who has them under his thumb and who insists on making things difficult.  Tam is a very sick girl who is mostly cared for by her grandmother, and it’s here that the tragic aspect of the book makes its mark.  Tam is suffering from childhood leukemia and 90% of children survive it if they get care early enough.  Unfortunately, Tam did not, given that they live on the street, and while her personality is almost completely obscured by her illness, the love between her and her grandmother is so touching, as is the attitude of all the other characters towards them.

Saigon itself (as it is called in the book) almost acts as a character; since Minh and Mai are poor they move around quite a lot and allow descriptions of most of the city, as well as the hovels in which they and Tam live.  I really enjoyed the descriptions in the book and felt that the author did an admirable job contrasting wealth and poverty and getting across the feel of both the city and the Vietnamese people.  The plot is not particularly tight, especially in the beginning, but it doesn’t seem to matter because I was too busy enjoying the characters and descriptions and hoping for something better to come their way.

Dragon House is completely different from John Shors’s other work, but I really enjoyed my time spent with it.  It is both a charming story and inspires us to do something better in the world by exposing the evils he’s seen.  I definitely recommend it.

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Review: The Treasures of Venice, Loucinda McGary

Kiernan Fitzgerald’s sister Kathleen has been kidnapped, and if he can’t find the Jewels of the Madonna in time, he fears for her life.  On the run from the men who took his sister, Kiernan runs into Samantha Lewis at a cafe and asks her to pretend to be his date so he can escape.  Perplexed, Sam goes along with it, hoping Kiernan might help her forget her horrible ex-fiance, especially given she is on what was meant to be their honeymoon.  When she experiences strange dreams and flashbacks, Sam begins to wonder whether she and Kiernan are reincarnations, reliving a love story that happened more than five hundred years ago.

I liked The Treasures of Venice a lot more than I was expecting to!  I normally don’t like romantic suspense novels; I read this one for the dual history prospect since I enjoyed The Reincarnationist by M.J. Rose.  Normally, I find romantic suspense isn’t conducive to believable relationships, since at least half the book will be spent intriguing, running away from bad guys, or having the characters’ lives in danger.  That’s also the case here, but I liked the couple and I loved the historical tie-in.  I felt that the second, older timeline was a little gimmicky; I could actually believe in the present-day love story a little more, probably because the latter is given more screen time.  Maybe also because I had trouble believing that any fifteenth-century woman would have a chance to escape her entourage in broad daylight every single day.  It was completely necessary to have both storylines, though, or the ending would have felt very deus ex machina instead of having been built up the whole time.  I did love the little trip into Venice’s history, the cathedrals, the detective hunt for specific graves, the gondola trip, and so on.

As I mentioned already, I liked the couple that were the main focus of the book.  Even without the physical spark between them that we’re explicitly told about, I felt they had a connection from square one and then built on it nicely, so I found myself hoping for them to be together.  The suspense towards the middle-end of the book ramped this up for me a lot and I found myself realizing just why people like romantic suspense.  It was cute how worried the main characters got about each other, especially when the bad guys were all taken care of, because they didn’t know how to act without that filter of danger.  They figure it out, though, of course.

I really enjoyed The Treasures of Venice and would definitely recommend it to those who enjoy contemporary romance or romantic suspense, with a hint of historical mystery.

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Review: On Beauty, Zadie Smith

Howard Belsey is a middle-aged professor teaching at a university, Wellington, that is clearly made up, but also very elite; Howard himself, however, is rapidly becoming a failure between his inability to finish his book and his inability to keep his marriage together after an affair.  His family consists of his wife, Kiki, a large black woman who is constantly aware of her race and lack of academic pretensions but who is particularly warm, generous, and loving, his children, Jerome, a recently converted Christian who is disgusted by his father’s affair, Zora, an aspiring poet who tries too hard and wants to be what she is not, and Levi, ashamed of his upper-middle-class family and seeking to rediscover his black heritage by pretending to be from the poorest area in Boston.  Directly opposed to the Belseys are the Kipps family, complete with more successful academic father, vague but loving mother, and rebellious children.  When the Kippses move to Massachusetts, just down the street from the Belseys, their rivalries collide in a fascinating exploration of race, politics, class, and love.

I really had no idea what to expect from this novel.  I had heard mediocre reviews almost everywhere; knowing that there are flaws in a book makes it very easy to put off time and time again.  When I started a real effort to read the oldest books in my collection, On Beauty was up there.  Those mediocre reviews, it turned out, were to my advantage, because despite my negative expectations I found myself enjoying this book very much.  Through Howard and Kiki’s relationship in particular, I really enjoyed how Smith took a good long look at love, marriage, and the problems inherent therein.  Obviously, I hope most people don’t have to cheat on their spouses to realize their value; I just thought it was interesting and a bit sad that even though Howard completely loved his wife, he still found himself straying.  Not excusable, but perhaps the first book I’ve read that focused on such a tender issue.

Through the character of Levi (and Kiki, to an extent but not as much), the book also examines racism and black heritage.  Levi is actually ashamed of his mostly-white neighborhood.  He feels that his mother and siblings have thrown away their heritage and he’s on a quest to find the street again, dressing peculiarly, adopting a very strange slang language, and befriending recent immigrants whose cause he immediately begins to champion.  As a constrast the novel has Carl, who despite coming from Levi’s imitated background embraces his ability to expand his knowledge as soon as he is given a chance.  Carl’s eventual exit from the novel highlights a severe problem for the intelligent who are disadvantaged by income or race.

That isn’t to mention the political tensions between Kipps and Belsey, the ideals of academics – only students who can pay or can we allow in poor students with extraordinary talents? – and the irreparable harm that a breakdown of trust can cause in relationships.  Even deeper, Smith uses this novel to think about beauty, especially Kiki’s inner and outer beauty despite the fact that she doesn’t fit the stereotypes and doesn’t fit in with most of the other characters.  It comes from somewhere deeper, some part of her personality, and I loved that.  This is meant to be a satire (in some ways, this is obvious in the pure ridiculousness of some of the characters’ actions) and I think I failed at recognizing that, but I did enjoy what I got out of this one.  I’m glad that I have White Teeth on my TBR pile.

IndieBound | Powell’s | Amazon | Amazon UK

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Review: Every Last Cuckoo, Kate Maloy

After a marriage spanning nearly fifty years, Charles and Sarah have settled into a comfortable routine.  They have left their petty squabbles and difficult times behind them and are ready to enjoy what is left to them.  Since they were both healthy, though, Sarah did not envision her life without Charles, and is cast adrift into sudden widowhood after an accident.  Without purpose or companion, Sarah is not sure what to do with herself.  Eventually, however, she finds her house filling with both familiar and new faces, casting her life into a different mold than she expected, but perhaps one she can live with after all.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Every Last Cuckoo. I don’t read much women’s fiction and I didn’t choose this one for myself, it was a book group choice.  Perhaps because I wasn’t expecting to, I really enjoyed the book and I read it in just a few hours.  I found it easy to relate to Sarah, despite the vast difference in our ages and life experiences, and I loved the relationships that formed between her and her new houseguests.  This is a novel that is much more about one woman’s growth and discovery of peace than about any external conflict or tension.  It is Sarah that must define her future without the man who has been beside her for most of her life.

I also enjoyed Sarah’s reflections on her life with Charles.  They are poignant, touching, and illustrate beautifully the strength of a marriage that can weather so many ups and downs.  Even her relationships with her children are remembered, sometimes with fondness and sometimes with regret.  The book pulled together all the strands of Sarah’s life and made it into a whole which she is still continuing to experience and change.

I definitely recommend Every Last Cuckoo.  It is a wonderful, moving read, and I think most women will be able to relate to Sarah.  For the record, my mom read this book too, and her reaction to it made mine pale in comparison, so much so that I gave it to her.  More life experience may just make this one better.

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Blog Tour Review: Last Light over Carolina, Mary Alice Monroe

From the back cover:

On an otherwise ordinary day, in a small shrimping village off the coast of South Carolina, a boat goes missing.  The entire town rallies as all are mobilized to find the lost vessel.  Throughout the course of one day, flashbacks of Bud Morrison, the captain on board, and Carolina, his wife, reveal the happier days of a once-thriving shrimping industry juxtaposed with the memories of their long term marriage.

Bud and Carolina fell in love at first sight, but that doesn’t mean their life together has been an easy one.  Their marriage has hugely deteriorated in recent years not only because of the decline of the shrimping industry but also because of a lack of communication and an unwillingness to forgive each other for sins committed in the past.  Over the course of this novel, they realize how much they need to find their way back to each other properly, not just go through the motions.

Even though these two main characters are in a completely different stage of life than I am, I still enjoyed this book and appreciated their bond.  This was made somewhat easier by the fact that their flashbacks encompassed all of their history, from the moment they met to their happiest moments to the mistakes they made.  The story was told in such a way that even though tension was building in the present day because of Bud’s accident, the flashbacks were still important and appropriate as both characters endure a particularly difficult day.

At the core, this is very much a book about relationships.  The novel takes us through the entirety of Bud’s and Carolina’s short courtship and marriage and we can see how they’ve changed and grown, for good or for bad, and eventually shows how they got to where they are in the present day scenes.  It isn’t just about them, though, it’s also their daughter Lizzy and her ex-husband Josh, their relationship with Carolina’s parents, developments between the friends that they made as youths, and among other shrimpers on the ocean.  It’s in a sense about the entire community and how it has changed right along with them in the thirty years since Bud and Carolina met and fell in love.

Last Light over Carolina feels very Southern.  The characters’ accents aren’t spelled out phonetically, but the way they speak and their mannerisms more than make it clear.  I loved the descriptions of life on the shrimping boat, the difficulties of working such long hours, the pain from hard labor, but with the beauty of watching the early morning sunrise and feeling free on the open ocean.  It’s easy to see how the various characters are drawn to this life even as the supply of shrimp begins to let them down.  The scenery is evoked wonderfully and places us right in South Carolina, in the Atlantic Ocean, and at times in Florida.  One of the blurbs on the cover says that this book brings the South to life and that feels true throughout the narrative.

I definitely enjoyed my time with this novel.  I came to appreciate the characters as I went on and to care about their plights.  I would love to go on a shrimper and see what they experienced for real.  Last Light over Carolina is a wonderful book and it’s well worth reading these carefully crafted pages.

Check out some of the other fantastic blogs on today’s tour:

All About {n}: www.bookwormygirl.blogspot.com
Bookin’ with “BINGO”: http://bookinwithbingo.blogspot.com/
My Guilty Pleasures: http://www.mgpblog.com/
Just Jennifer Reading: http://www.justjenniferreading.blogspot.com/
Chick With Books: http://www.chickwithbooks.blogspot.com/
Bella’s Novella: http://www.bellasnovella.com/
Books and Needlepoint: http://booksandneedlepoint.blogspot.com/
Booksie’s Blog: http://booksiesblog.blogspot.com/
Beth Fish Reads: http://bfishreads.blogspot.com/
Living Life and Reading Books: http://ilovelovebooks.blogspot.com/
Book N Around: http://booknaround.blogspot.com/
The Eclectic Book Hoarder: http://eclecticbookhoarder.blogspot.com/
Pick of the Literate: http://bookrevues.blogspot.com/
A Book Bloggers Diary: http://abookbloggersdiary.blogspot.com/
My Friend Amy: http://www.myfriendamysblog.com/
The Tome Traveller’s Weblog: http://thetometraveller.blogspot.com/
Gaijin Mama: http://gaijinmama.wordpress.com/
Blog Business World: http://blogbusinessworld.blogspot.com/
ScarpettaJunkie’s Blog: http://scarpettajunkie.wordpress.com/
Frugal Plus: http://frugalplus.com/
Carolina Gal’s Literary Café: http://susansliterarycafe.blogspot.com/
This Book For Free: www.thisbookforfree.com
Marta’s Meanderings: http://martasmeanderings.blogspot.com/

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Review: Songs My Mother Never Taught Me, Selcuk Altun

With his mother dead, Arda can finally relax and look back on his life.  When he was fourteen, his father was assassinated, but Arda doesn’t seem to regret this very much at first, too busy relaxing in the lap of wealth and luxury.  Meanwhile, the assassin Bedirhan, living in the same city, has decided to give up his job.  As the story unfolds, we learn that Bedirhan was the man who murdered Arda’s father, but that they have a surprising amount in common.  When Arda’s life is in danger, only the clues provided by his parents’ friend Selcuk Altun will lead him to his father’s killer and the answers that he desperately craves.

I’m afraid this book gets a solid “meh” from me.  Quotes on the back of the book promise “a brilliantly edgy, witty thriller” and a deep insight into life in Istanbul.  I didn’t feel that I got either of those things; certainly the book was not very exciting until the very end.  At one point, Arda is nearly raped and murdered, saved by a mysterious gunman, but I wasn’t particularly worried about him.  I was, rather, annoyed at his musings regarding his youthful crush and probably wouldn’t have minded if he’d kicked the bucket in such a violent way.  This is even more the case when we learn that his father actually slept with said youthful crush.  Color me disgusted with the book; not even a compelling narrative and I have to read about pedophilia?  

That isn’t to say I felt more sympathy for the other narrator, Bedirhan, because I didn’t.  I actually had a hard time distinguishing between the two.  The prose isn’t exactly distinct, which may be either the author or the translator’s fault, or my own for not reading carefully enough, and the only signal of the change is an A or a B as a chapter heading.  I did not get this at first, I thought that the chapters might be lettered rather than numbered.  Silly me, yes, but also confusing when I finally realized someone else was talking!

Were I interested in this book in a literary sense, I think I could have pulled a lot out of it.  There is, for one thing, the contrast between the character of Selcuk Altun and the author of the book Selcuk Altun.  What is his motive in putting himself here, especially given that the book is written in first person?  Secondly, there is a frequent mention of a book entitled Songs My Mother Taught Me.  Clearly, given Arda’s abrasive relationship with his mother, this one is easily explained with regards to the title.  I’m not, however, very interested in a book that is hard to enjoy without picking it apart.  I do enjoy literary fiction with a deeper meaning, but not if the book is impenetrable otherwise, and for me, this one was a very difficult read.

I would like to conclude this review, however, with the last line of the book.  Don’t worry, it gives nothing away:

I thought that only film stars shed tears with their eyes shut.

I don’t know why that line caught me, but it did, and so I thought I’d share.

Available via IndieBound, Powell’s, Amazon, and Amazon UK.

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Review: Love Walked In, Marisa de los Santos

Cornelia was working in the cafe one day when Martin Grace walked in, suave and sexy and the image of a modern day Cary Grant.  Amazingly, he asks Cornelia to go to London with him, that day.  She refuses, but he still calls.  And sends her flowers.  Martin Grace, however, is not the love that comes into Cornelia’s life.  That comes later, in the shape of a little girl named Claire Hobbes, whose mother is not herself and whose father is not very interested in her.  With the help of her brother-in-law, Teo, and her friends and family, Cornelia learns what love is.

This book promised me a modern day fairy tale, and in a way, it delivered just that, but in a very contemporary setting and tone of voice.  I loved both Claire and Cornelia.  I love their separate voices and the love that developed between them.  I adored Claire’s stubborness and Cornelia’s dreams and the way that they meshed.  From the minute Cornelia played with a baby in the first few pages, I knew what was going to happen for her in this book, but I loved the way it unfolded.

Actually, I didn’t predict all of it; some things I did not foresee immediately.  In that sense, this isn’t a typical romance; Martin isn’t really the love that’s walking in, although the book makes it sound that way at first.  Rather, he is the change that allows Cornelia to embrace love in her life.  I liked that.  Cornelia says this at the beginning, so I’m not giving anything away.

I also really liked the writing in this book.  Unfortunately I have already had to return it to the library, so I don’t have any quotes, but you can certainly see the result of the author’s degrees!   The prose is simultaneously beautiful and personable; it’s as if the characters are talking to you, but they’ve put a great deal of thought into their words. I loved that she threw in so many movie references while citing Cornelia’s addiction to classic movies.  I haven’t watched a ton of old movies, but I have seen enough of the classics to get who she was talking about and it really enhanced my ability to visualize the characters, something that I generally struggle with.

Overall, this was a charming, enchanting read.  This is another one of my finds through book blogging and I’m so grateful to have discovered so many fantastic titles lately!  I have Belong to Me, the sequel, waiting for me at home, and I can’t wait to read it.  Love Walked In has my enthusiastic recommendation.

Available via IndieBound, Powell’s, Amazon, and Amazon UK.

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Review: Into the Beautiful North, Luis Alberto Urrea

Thanks to the flood of illegal immigrants into the US, small towns in Mexico are left with a lack of young men.  For Nayeli and her friends Yolo and Vampi, this is a serious problem, especially when banditos arrive in the town to scare the women. After watching the film The Magnificent Seven, Nayeli decides that she is going to go to the US, into the beautiful north, to find seven men to protect her town and revitalize the lives of the women therein.  Armed with cash, a pretty smile, and three friends, Nayeli heads off on a bus into a journey neither she nor I would have imagined.

With a few notable exceptions, novels set in Latin America tend to frustrate me.  Largely, this is because of the magical realism that many of those authors employ.  In general, I prefer novels to be either all fantasy or all real, but magical realism treads an uneasy line between the two, and for some reason I just don’t like it.  So when my online book club chose this novel for June, I wasn’t really sure what I was going to think of it.  In the end, I ended up on the edge myself between enjoying it and finding myself dissatisfied with it.

There are many things to enjoy in this novel.  Urrea’s writing is beautiful and evoked perfectly for me small-town Mexico, a garbage dump on the edge of the border, and American cities that I’ve never been to.  I was really moved by how difficult life is for illegal immigrants and how cruel the Border Patrol is towards them.  I’m not very comfortable with our stance towards illegal immigrants, although I don’t know how to fix it, so the struggles portrayed in the book really made me think about the problem.  It was interesting to see how in different locations, Mexicans are treated differently.  Lastly, there isn’t really much of that magical realism in this book.  Slightly unrealistic situations are portrayed but nothing that is actually impossible.  It still has a bit of that feel to it, but overall I was happy about this absence.

On the other hand, certain things bothered me about the book.  Nayeli’s journey seemed a little outrageous, especially given that the only threat was two men who refused to pay for their food.  We know that they are banditos because we are told, but they did not seem to be terrifying.  Other events in this book follow a similar unlikely pattern.  Some of the passages in the book are in Spanish, which I don’t speak, although I mostly skimmed them and tried to get the jist of the conversation.  Perhaps more fatally, I didn’t really understand or like many of the characters or their motivations.  I came closest to liking Nayeli, but then towards the end of the book she has an experience and reacts in a way that saddened me; I felt that for her, the journey was not fulfilling.  The secondary characters often irritated me; Nayeli’s friends are largely caricatures and it’s hard to feel that we know anything about them outside of their shell.  Even the missionary, Matt, was unappealing once we met him and seemed at total odds with the man all the girls had fallen in love with.

Despite all that, I did enjoy it.  I read it in a few hours between errands and never felt bored or that I wished I’d brought another book.  It was only afterwards that I began to feel uncertain about it and think through everything that I have mentioned.  I would still recommend it, especially if you like novels by other Latin American writers like Gabriel García Márquez.

Our book club discussion was really interesting.  More of us than I had expected felt lukewarm about the book; they didn’t like it, or they were like me and liked it but had some problems with it overall.  We were all most moved by the issue of illegal immigrants as portrayed by the book; some of us had heard about the garbage dumps and some of us had not.  A few of us were stymied by the way that people were able to recognize them as illegals; there are plenty of Latin Americans here legally and there is no real way to tell the difference.  We had a great discussion about it and I suspect other book clubs would too.

IndieBound | Powell’s | Amazon

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