Posts tagged fiction

BOOK REVIEW–HOMEGOING

Title: HOMEGOING
Author: Yaa Gyasi
Publisher/publication date: Alfred A. Knopf/2016
ISBN: 9781101947142
Pages: 310 pages(my copy)
Blurb
Two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of cape coast castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousand s of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery.
One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization.
The other thread follows Esi and her grandchildren into America. From the plantations of the south to the civil war and the great migration, from the coal mines of Pratt city, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of a captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.
Review
Can I request that you go back to read the blurb again. Patiently this time. Word for word, in case you sped through. Thank you.
Homegoing is a heartrending read. It follows two sisters separated at birth and explores if either of them ever had much hope as the white man breathed down their necks. Each alternating chapter traces the two generations through the evolvement of slave trade and there is an aching cry for the enslaved and those involved in selling their own brothers to the white man. Each chapter reads like a short story of people whose lives are scarred by the actions of other humans like themselves. Its haunting because just when you get drawn into the characters and empathise with their plight, the story for that person’s generation just ceases.
In short, it traces the legacy of slave trade in people’s every day lives and is a perspective of racial history. Life during the tribal wars in 1700, the transatlantic slave trade, the effect or lack of effect of the fugitive slave act, and how oppression of the blacks by the white shifted from that of the body to that of the mind.
We read of the way a people’s mother tongue was whipped out of their mouths; five lashes for every one word of Twi their children would unwittingly speak. We’re enraged at how humans are shackled to owners by a piece of paper so declaring them; people who in their own rights, should have mattered.

you want to know what weakness is? Weakness is treating someone as though they belong to you. Strength is knowing that everyone belongs to themselves”
”but for the rest of her life Esi would see a smile on a white face and remember the one the soldier gave her before taking her to his quarters, how white men smiling just meant more evil was coming with the next wave”

I don’t know if a reader can read this and justify certain actions ever again in their lives.
For me, Esi’s story was particularly haunting as she saw part of the undoing of her own people by her hands, and didn’t know it for what it was, until it was completed.
Yaa Gyasi has this as her debut novel and I say its worthy of praise. Effort is clearly put in (I saw a quote where Gyasi said she wrote the most part of the book in a dark and dingy room in her house, giving off a dungeon vibe).Her language is the envy of other writers, and her story-telling skills seamless.
There is a family tree at the start of the book which is very important for when the reader begins to get winded keeping up with who’s who from each generation.
Some people lament at the way each character’s story ends just when the reader starts to fall in love. I suppose that this is a way of stating the obvious; evil would not give closure. Mothers are separated from their children, lovers are killed or sold and the reader wants closure?
For those who have read this book, these characters remain my favourite: Esi, Ness, Kojo, Majorie.
It’ll help if you already know one or two things about the American civil war, slave trade, racism. If you don’t, I suppose this book can be a background for further learning. I recommend this book for the preservation of history. I rate the book 4.5 stars out of 5.
Excerpts:
”It was one thing to research something, another thing entirely to have lived it.”
”When he was younger, his father told him that black people didn’t like water because they were brought over on slave ships. What did a black man want to swim for? The ocean floor was already littered with black men”
”Esi stared at her mother then, and it was as though she were seeing her for the first time. maame was not a whole woman. There were large swaths of her spirit missing, and no matter how much Esi loved her, they both knew in that moment that love could never return what maame had lost. And Esi knew too that her mother would die rather than run into the woods ever again, die before capture, die even if it meant in her dying that Esi would inherit that unspeakable sense of loss, learn what it meant to be un-whole”
”Ness would fall asleep to the images of men being thrown into the Atlantic ocean like anchors attached to nothing: no land, no people, no worth”
‘the mud wall of the dungeon made all time equal. There was no sunlight. Darkness was day and night and everything in between. Sometimes there were so many bodies stacked into the women dungeon that they all had to lie, stomach down, so that women could be stacked on top of them”
don’t matter if you was or wasn’t. all they gotta do is say you was. That’s all they gotta do. You think cuz you all muscled up, you safe? Naw, dem white folks can’t stand the sight of you. Walkin’ round free as can be. Don’t nobody want to see a black man look like you walkin’ round proud as a peacock. Like you ain’t got a lick of fear in you… I’ma tell you, war may be over but it ain’t ended”
”you have to understand, H. the day you called me another woman’s name, I thought ain’t I been through enough? Ain’t just about everything I ever had been taken away from me? My freedom. My family. My body. And now I cant even own my name? aint I deserve to be Ethe, to you at least if nobody else? My mama gave me that name herself. I spent six good years with her before they sold me to Louisiana to work them sugarcanes. All I had of her then was my name. that was all I had of myself too. And you wouldn’t even give me that.”
”She wanted to explain that at home they had a different word for African-Americans, akata. The akata people were different from Ghanaians, too long gone from the mother continent to continue to call it the mother continent. She wanted to tell Mrs.Pinkston that she could feel herself being pulled away too, almost akata, too long gone from Ghana to be called a Ghanaian. But the look on Mrs. Pinkston’s face stopped her from explaining herself at all.”
So people, what do you think? Read this? Interested in doing so? Or do you have a comment about the slave trade? Just want to say hello? Lol. Comment people. Thank you!

BOOK REVIEW– Bridge To Haven

Title: Bridge to Haven
Author: Francine Rivers
Publisher/Publication date: Tyndale House Publishers Inc./2014
Edition: 1st ed. 
Paper back copy. 459 pages.
ISBN: 978-1-4143-6818-4

What does Haven signify? Literally, it is a place of rest or safety.
In this book, Haven is the name of a town. The book title signifies a place of grace and mercy for each person. Literally, to enter the town of Haven, you must pass through a particular bridge. Abra Matthews found it hard to come to that bridge once again.
Metaphorically, she also found it hard to pass through that redemption bridge which only Jesus provides.
The Story.
Abra doesn’t feel like ‘somebody’. She feels neglected and unloved. She believes she was adopted at age 5, out of a sense of Christian duty, from the couple who had earlier rescued her when she was found abandoned as a day old baby.
With Mitzi though, she feels differently. Old Mitzi shares her taste for music, is fashionable and doesn’t hesitate to give a piece of her mind.
Pastor Zeke has this to think of Mitzi:





Zeke knew Mitzi as a woman of wits and wisdom… Life experiences didn’t always bring wisdom but in Mitzi’s case it brought a great deal more. She said she’s been passionate in sin, but she was even more so in repentance. She had the gift of compassion for outcasts to prove it.


At age17, this growing red-haired beauty gets lured away from the ones who love her to a place of fame- Hollywood.
She think she’s found love but she is in for a rude awakening. She thinks she’s finally become accepted and respected but finds out fame comes at a terrible price.
Review:
I’m afraid of giving spoilers but I find the plot to be predictable in any case. Inspite of this, it’s a very loaded book, with lots of suspense.
I find the root of Abra’s problem to be the thought that she is unloved. Several references were made as to her thoughts of being a castaway even though she was hugely loved.
We get to contrast love and lust. For one, love is patient.
Francine is good with evoking emotions and well, emotions matter greatly.
It’s a lovely and warm read. I think lots of lessons can be gleaned from the book ranging from patience as an attribute of love, to parenting, and life choices. The Story also had to do with the war between North and South Korea and America’s involvement owing to the United Nations.
Francine Rivers brings it as true and as hot as it gets again. I respect the writing process of this book. Francine always appears diligent with her research and I respect that. Fine details of the Hollywood life and fine attention to every character.
The main characters are Abra, Joshua, Pastor Zeke, Penny, Ryan and Franklin Moss. My favourite character is Joshua.
I think this is a good read. I’ll buy this book for every young and ambitious girl with stars in her eyes. I’ll also recommend it to everyone for its central theme which I deduce to be “Love is patient”.
I recommend it very greatly to teenagers and to everyone at large. I rate it 4.0/5 stars.
On the war:










Every soldier who goes looking for comfort, comes back with VD…I have my pocket Gideon bible on me at all times and read it every chance I get. It calms me, gives me hope. Men call me “preacher”, and not in the mocking way they did in boot camp. When death hunts men, they look for God…”

“Being with Gil made Joshua remember the things he’d been taught. “I forgot the rules” he’d addmited to Gil once during one of their early conversations.
What rules?” Gil had asked.

Rule no one: young men die. Rule number two: you can’t change rule number one. I heard it in training, but forgot it in battle
.”

Sometimes God has to destroy in order to save. He has to wound in order to heal”

 As always,
Debby.
Have you read this book? Are you interested in reading this? Do you have another recommendation for share? Pray tell…

Me before you–BOOK REVIEW


The title of the book is “Me Before  You”  and the author is Jojo Moyes.
The publisher is the Penguin group. This is the first edition and it has 481 pages. It was published in 2012.
I didn’t ponder on what the title could suggest before reading the book. In hindsight, I believe it implies what extent you’ll go to, in putting the happiness of the person you love before your happiness.
The genre is conntemporary adult fiction.
The book is written in the first person point of view, which is okay. Towards the end of the book, we however get two other points of view for a bit.
I can logically follow the main thread of the book but maybe not emotionally.
This book stirs up mixed feelings for me. It’s disturbing, not in the way ” the girl on the train” was disturbing. It’s disturbing in an okay-easy-to-read-but-i-can’t-accept-this-worldview kind of way.
Will Traynor is disabled, not just a paraplegic but he is a quadriplegic (and the worst case, a c5/6 as we’re informed). He can’t make use of his body from his chest downwards. There is faint movement in his palm but he can’t grasp anything. So he must be fed food, he must be given a drink. He has go to toilet in a catheter attached to his wheel chair, and have it emptied by a carer. He cannot make many decisions on his own. He is liable to having his mother(or anyone which is really my point) walk out on him during a conversation, as she did when he first brought up a topic she considered an outright taboo. This same taboo founds the main conflict in the book.
He is a 35years old man and has to depend on people. This is vastly dissimilar to his old way of life which included bungee jumping, swimming with whales, climbing mountains etc. He was a physical person and that life was ripped right out of reach.
Lou, on the other hand, is content , too content with her life, and it has made her not so smart. At 26years old, she talks and reasons quite slowly. She is the sort of person who counts the footsteps between her house and the bus stop. The kind of person who works at a bakery (butter-bun: her former work place), by just strolling in to the place on the basis of a dare from her younger sister that she couldn’t get employed in a day, and asks if she could work there. She is the kind of person who works there for 6years without a formal employment and without a demand on her part for a raise. All this, not because she is disabled in any way. She is the kind of person who stays in an unstimulating relationship for 7 years with a man who loves keeping his body fit more than he loves her. She has weird fashion sense which causes everyone she meets to raise their eyebrows.
Lou has a strange family too. Strange. Especially her grandpa. Ooh and her father. And her mother. And her sister. And her nephew-Tomotomo. 😁
She gets employed as Will Traynor’s carer and inspite of the initial animosity, they ride on smoothly for close to six months.
The changes she is willing to effect in her life are still disturbing because they are as a function of her love for him not because she has seen the folly in her former decisions.
The novels begs the question, “is love sufficient?”
I do not have a favourite character in this book and I wish I could change the beginning and middle of the book to be better paced and gripping.
The style of the book is informal. The language is clear and convincing. It exposes the reader to the life of a disabled person and evokes empathy.
I don’t intend to insert spoilers so I won’t  go on.
I didn’t particularly like the ‘force’ of the book which was low. It wasn’t much of a page-turning, gripping book. It didn’t evoke a plethora of emotions from me, only one emotion. Notwithstanding, there was good humour in a number of scenes.
A novel is always beyond the story it tells, it’s the sum total of the author’s  voice, techniques etc.
I rate it a 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to anyone interested. You should actually get it.
On living with disability:

“and all I can say to you is that, I wouldn’t be in his shoes for all the money in the world”

On love and choices:

“how is it you have the right to destroy my life ” I wanted to demand of him, “and I am not allowed a say in yours?”

on the gift of quietness and bliss:

“sometimes I stood at the window and watched him, his head tilted back, just enjoying the sun on his face. When I remarked on his ability to be still and just enjoy the moment-something I never mastered- he pointed out that if you can’t move your arms and legs, you haven’t got much of a choice”

On living life:

“there is a hunger in you Clark. A fearlessness. You just buried it, like most people do”
“just live well. Just live”
“I will never ever regret the things that I’ve done because most days, all you have left are places in your memory that you can go to”
“there’s not a lot separating me from anyone you might pass in the street. You probably wouldn’t look at me twice. An ordinary girl leading an ordinary life. Actually it suited me fine”
“”you cut yourself off from all sorts of experiences because you tell yourself you are not that sort of person”. ”
” but I’m not”


I got this book as a gift from someone I do not know personally although I read her blog. It was on instagram, she put up a picture of the book and for the first time in my life I commented with “I want someone to give me this book” and she did! It landed at my doorstep in UI. This is another thank-you note. to Eclectictope.com. :)💛

Books, living and choices,
Debby

BOOK REVIEW–The Atonement Child

Before my two weeks semester break began, I was certain I was going to read so many books. I was only yet to draw out the list of fiction, autobiography and Christian literature I would read. I was only yet to.
The break has turned out entirely different but I’m super grateful for how it turned out. It’s been tough keeping up with certain demands in my fellowship but I’ll probably never really build so much strength without it.
Another good thing was that I completed a book by Francine Rivers. I did so in no time really. In this book, she really pushed her Christian views forward. It seemed like a tough Francine. Well, well Precious people, let me review it before pushing all my opinions in front of your face. (sidenote: I’ve been calling everyone precious these days, good innit?)
 
The title of the book is “the atonement child”, authored by Francine Rivers. It was published by Tyndale house publishers inc, Wheaton Illinois. it has 376 pages.
I was in a Christian library the other day, and I saw a book with a colourful cover page on a shelf.
It’s titled “aids is real and it is in our church”.
To be honest, I can imagine most pastors swiftly yet steadily glancing away with sufficient experience, from that book with the colourful cover page. But aids IS in our church. Who’s gonna pick up the book? Against that backdrop, “the atonement child” is also a book that hinges on a topic that makes us all avert our gaze to the side. It’s based on a somewhat sensitive issue. Abortion.
 
In a moment too short to have had the weight and consequence it eventually had, Dynah Carey was raped. Painfully. Brutally.
Beautiful Dynah, sweet Dynah, blonde-hair Dynah, God-adoring Dynah. Her family seemed to have been her rock. I enjoyed reading how she went down to New Life College in Illinois to school and how she met Ethan who swept her off her feet, yes. However, her life hit rock bottom after the rape and she was forced to reconsider everything she had ever known, and forced to put things in perspective, one day at a time.
The main characters were Dynah; Ethan, her fiance; Hannah, her mother; Doug, her father; Joe, her friend; Evie, her grand-mother. The characters were very credible and they felt so many emotions . I’ve understood that I sometimes choke down my feelings and refuse to consider them in a bid to be respectful. Well well, back to the characters. The characters seemed to have been tried with trials they couldn’t bear, they ran into lots of problems.
My favourite character is Dynah. duhh. She was able to pull through beautifully(this involved lots of tears and questioning God, running away, quitting school) but it serves to tell how much dignity can still be pulled on, in ugly circumstances. If I told you who my second favourite character is, I’ll probably begin to gush and digress and I will mention my third favourite. You already know I love the book, I don’t need to make it any more obvious.
 
Beautiful as the characters were, I couldn’t relate on a personal level. Our experiences differ. The setting is also in a contrasting part of the world. My favourite part of the book was a certain widows brigade meeting. Some close old women who met together every Sunday over the past four years to share lunch, sorrows and joy. I liked It because it touched on vulnerability. And the courage to call on the commander of the army, to go to war against the enemy.
 
This book while focusing on Dynah, was able to efficiently branch out to the lives of people affected by abortion: The doctors who perform it, the families of the doctors and what they felt or didn’t feel, the parents of those who aborted and reasons for supporting or opposing it, the men for whom pregnancies were aborted and their disposition for the rest of their lives , the pastors from whom counselling was sought, their errors and their excellence, the schools with no tolerance policy for pregnancy and the blind eyes turned to rape circumstances, the government and the position of the law, pro-life support groups and what they really care about.
On the issue of pro-life organizations, this book subtly dealt with why these organizations should focus more on the women thinking of having or who have had abortions and should not only be concerned with ‘saving the child’
This book had exceedingly thrilling points despite it the solemn theme.
I’ll recommend this to all and sundry because we all have a thing or two in perspective about abortion which needs changing.
 

On having answers :
He looked into her eyes and saw fear and confusion, her anguish. He wanted to weep. He knew the answer to that question in his heart. He knew the answer by all he had studied over the years in the word. But he couldn’t bring himself to give a one word answer to such a loaded question.

 

On Christian zeal:
Douglas had noticed that when they first met Ethan “he’s on fire alright but that kind of fire can burn churches down”

 

On grief:
she had thought she had cried to last a lifetime when she was nineteen. Now she realized she’d had no clue what grief was. She hadn’t known how deep it could go or how long it could last and that there were ramifications she hadn’t suspected.
Sometimes when she read her Bible, she envied the Israelite. They could wear sack clothes and ashes. They could wail and scream. They could prostrate themselves before the lord

 

On trials:
anger stirred. Frenetic activities seemed to be Ethan’s forte. And safety valve. When he didn’t want to face something, he served mightily as for the lord. But not really. It was easier to teach God’s word than to live it

 

On people’s justifications for abortion:
“it would seem life could be built upon the foundation of death”
“besides the supreme court doesn’t agree with you. They seem to think we poor women would fall apart if we knew the facts, so they decided women don’t have the right to know the full truth” she shook her head “they’ve made it legal to withhold vital information, even when a woman asks for it…and do you know the argument they used for withholding information? They say it spares women trauma…”

 

On facing the truth:
“she lifted her shoulders slightly, unable to explain, not sure she wanted to diagnose her feelings. Perhaps it was best not to examine some things too closely. You might find corruption.

 

On compromises made for love:
she hadn’t wanted to think about it too much or look too closely, not when the love of her life was so intimately involved. She couldn’t bear to think he might be wrong

 

On worrying:
He brushed a tear from her cheek. “you’re borrowing trouble, Dynah. You’re worrying about what might happen. Deal with now”

 

On love for Children:
“I remember my son going through a period in the seventies when he said he didn’t want to bring children into such an awful world, ” Evie said” I told him people who cared so much about children should be the ones having them”

 
 
Love and books,
Debby.
 

ALWAYS THE BRIDESMAID by Lindsey Kelk


This is my first book review. Yaay. This has been lying low in draft for months. Not that anything I post doesn’t wait either. Well, I review:
The genre is Chicklit.
It’s in the 1st person pov
The author’s style is informal. The book is written in form of a bridesmaid journal entry.
It’s about a lady, Maddie, and the manner in which she jostles life events. She is a klutz, who works as an event planner. Its disastrous how that turns out for people’s events.
This book deals with the maintainance of relationships – with family( however difficult this may be), with friends, with ex-es, with co-workers.
The language is clear and easy to follow.
The events are quite dramatic for a person’s life but still very believable.
Themes covered include friendship, family, loyalty, marriage, and maintaining balance in life overload.
The author’s concluding chapter is convincing and perhaps my most favourite aspect of the book. I particularly liked her style of conveying what happened afterwards without the use of narration.
When I completed my reading I didn’t think anything was lacking except information on one character. I haven’t read other books by Lindsey Kelk so I can’t make a comparison but with this that i’ve read I’m interested in reading her other books. Next I want to read is “what a girl wants”.
I can’t relate on a personal level with the characters but they are people who exist in my head, they felt real.
I like the book. However the story didn’t keep me guessing, not much suspense. My favourite part of the book turns out to be the anti-climax which I daren’t tell you. In all, it is a very witty and humorous book
I recommend this book for young readers, those looking for comedy and in general chicklit genre fans . I rate it a 4 out of 5 stars. I have quotes for you:
On being a bridesmaid:
“you might be surprised to learn what an accomplished and powerful and wonderful young woman you already are. remember there is a reason your bride chose you”
On getting over grief:
”’these things happen’ he rationalized wiping out three months of my being played for a fool with three words”
Useful tips like:
”never try to smother a laugh if there’s a risk of it coming out of your nose. Cackling is more attractive than snorting”
”I didn’t even ask him a question! How is he supposed to reply if I didn’t ask him a question? That’s messaging 101”
And others:
”it’s so strange how something can affect someone in such a huge way and only have a rippling effect on others”
”Exciting? I asked. I know they say the pen is mightier than the sword but what I wouldn’t have given for a machete at that exact moment”
”wedding dress salons are such strange places. Blindingly white, eye-wateringly expensive and full of women screaming. I wondered if the government had ever considered bringing terrorists here for questioning.”
”don’t overreach Maddie. when you shoot for the moon, you end up with your face In the mud”
”I looked at my best friend, it was a startling thing when someone you thought you knew inside out could still shock you. And not just because I realized her hair was in a chignon instead of a topknot”