Rating: B+/ I watched the movie based on this story, Antwone Fisher, when I was twelve or thirteen, and even though maybe I was a little young for the film’s heavy themes, the plot stuck with me for years. I had the memoir on my shelf for years and had unsuccessfully tried to get through it once when one day I remembered it and impulsively decided to pick it up. It’s hard to call this an ‘inspirational’ story, because of the severity of abuse the author, Antwone Fisher, suffers as a child. However it’s a book that makes you think about the resilience of the human spirit, and it’s impossible to not a little in awe of Fisher. He’s had a fascinating life, and he seems to have bounced back from his abusive childhood with a great deal of candor and strength. Continue reading Book Review: Finding Fish by Antwone Quenton Fisher
Rating: A-/ I can’t remember the last time I felt this emotionally drained after reading a book. It’s a tricky business to write a novel in an intentionally childish and grammatically incorrect style so as to capitalize on the narrator’s illiteracy, but I think this book pulled that off wonderfully. Although that sounds like it would be difficult to read, I found myself getting pulled into the pragmatic and plain-spoken heroine, Mary’s world without too much confusion. Moreover, I fell in love with Mary’s voice and, withholding spoilers, it broke my heart that things didn’t work out better for her than they did. Continue reading Book Review: The Colour of Milk by Nell Leyshon
Rating: A-/ Wow. This is one heartbreaking story. If you want to read this book but have doubts because the subject matter might be too hard to cope with, be forewarned, it only goes downhill from here. There’s so much pain in Imani All Mine, to the point where the moments of hope and redemption hardly seem worth mentioning. I knew that this was a dark book, but I didn’t see the tearjerker of an ending coming, it blindsided me. I think this book is a work of art. It combines dialect with lyricism to powerful effect, without feeling false or untrue to the character’s voice and education level. Continue reading Book Review: Imani All Mine by Connie Porter
Rating: B/ Celie isn’t a slave, but she might as well be. At the tender age of fourteen, Celie’s abusive father passes her off to an equally abusive man in an marriage the two have already arranged. Celie’s only joy comes from her younger sister, Nettie, so when Nettie is sent away and becomes a missionary in Africa, Celie is understandably devastated and writes her sister hundreds of letters in order to keep in touch. The Color Purple is written in epistolary format, and the narrative comes either in the form of letters Celie writes to God attempting to reconcile with her horrid living situation or notes that Celie and Nettie write back and forth to each other, attempting to provide comfort in sad and desperate times. Continue reading Book Review: The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Rating: B+/ Call me crazy, but I count Patrick McCabe’s 1992 novel The Butcher Boy among my favorite and most influential books of all time. Sure, it’s Bleak with a capital B, but it turned me on to my current fascination with books featuring unreliable narrators. It was made into a 1997 movie by Neil Jordan, and while it was surprisingly good with a convincing performance by Eamonn Owens as the book’s mentally disturbed narrator, Francie, some of the book’s brilliance was lost in translation. Continue reading Book Review: Breakfast on Pluto by Patrick McCabe
Rating: B+/ Not as crudely irreverent as the title might suggest, The Dirty Parts of the Bible is the surprisingly touching and sweet story of Tobias Henry, the nineteen-year-old sexually frustrated son of a born-again Baptist preacher. Struggling with his sexual urges and skeptical of his father’s teachings, Tobias is sent out on a journey to his uncle’s farm in Glen Rose, Michigan after his dad suffers a bizarre accident and is temporarily blinded. Tobias’ goal is to uncover a large sum of money that his dad hid in a well on his family property years ago.
Continue reading Book Review: The Dirty Parts of the Bible by Sam Torode
Rating: B/ Behold the Many is kind of a strange book, and one that is hard to summarize and describe, but I’ll try my best to put my feelings about this novel into words. I had never heard of it when I picked it up but I was immediately sucked in by the beautiful cover art, featuring an a black-and-white picture of an innocent-looking Asian girl overlaid with colorful flowers. The image, much like many examples of cover art on the front of novels, has very little to do with the actual story, seeming in this case to have been randomly picked out with little correlation with the plot itself. Continue reading Book Review: Behold the Many by Lois-Ann Yamanaka