Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Month In Review

April was a great month for reading, I read 15 books!  I think that may be a new record for me. It helps that I had so many great books to read as well as the 24 Hour Readathon.  Here is what I read, with my GoodReads ratings:

5 Stars
Prada and Prejudice by Katie Oliver
Landing Gear by Kate Pullinger
Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey
Up, Up, & Away by Jonah Keri

4 Stars
Skinny Bitch Gets Hitched by Kim Barnouin
Every Day is for the Thief by Teju Cole
God's Dream for You by Matthew Barnett
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
Rhinestone Jesus by Kristen Welch
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
The Fully Lived Life by Dr. Merry C. Lin

3 Stars
The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
Tempting Fate by Jane Green
Deep Thoughts from a Hollywood Blonde by Jennie Garth
The Ever After of Ashwin Rao by Padma Viswanathan

Challenges

Canadian Book Challenge (5), Diversity on the Shelf (3), TBR Pile (0), Classics Club (0)

What I'm Looking Forward to in May

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

"The Here and Now" by Ann Brashares

Follow the rules.  Remember what happened.  Never fall in love.

Seventeen-year-old Prenna James immigrated to New York when she was twelve years old.  But she didn’t come from another country, she came from a different time.  In the future, a mosquito-borne illness has killed millions of people and is threatening to wipe all life from earth.  But Prenna and others have discovered a way to escape, by going back in time.

Once in the present day, their community is strictly controlled and everyone must follow the rules so that no one discovers where they are really from and so that they can help prevent the plague they are escaping from.  Prenna doesn’t want to break the rules but when she falls in love with Ethan, a boy at school, she finds herself in trouble.  And when Prenna and Ethan find out a secret that could save the future, they soon find themselves on the run from the community and in a race against time.

The Here and Now is the newest novel from Ann Brashares, the bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series.  Young adult, science fiction, romance, this book packs a lot in to a quick read.

I really don’t read much from the Young Adult genre but when I saw this book available on Netgalley and I read the blurb I thought it would be interesting (I also got the author mixed up with another whose book I enjoyed many years ago.)  This ended up being a book that was okay for me, not fantastic but not bad either.

The premise is very cool, a community of people who travel from the future to escape a plague that is wiping out the earth.  I wish though that this part had been expanded upon a bit more.  The book only gives a glimpse part way through of what life was like but I think this could have been developed more.  I also wish that more about how the community arrived in the present time and how they set themselves up and functioned was included.  It felt as though it rushed into setting up the romance between Ethan and Prenna.

I really enjoyed how the book touched upon the current issues surrounding climate change and illness.  The plot of the book gives this good light and touches on an very important subject in a great way for young people.  I do think, however, that this also could have been developed a little bit more.

As I have said, I’m not much of a YA reader, so I’m not sure if my some of my grievances with the characters and their actions are because the genre is just not for me or if they are really silly.  One example of this is when Prenna and Ethan are supposed to be off saving the world but they take a break to go shopping and head to the beach.  I was thinking surely they could be doing other things to prepare.  And the way their relationship developed, well it was all just a little surprising to me.


As I said, I thought the premise of the book was very interesting and a great idea.  But where the book falls flat for me is how the story is developed.  I think more attention could have been given to certain points.  It would have made the book longer, but in my opinion, more well-rounded.  It all felt rushed and that is unfortunate for such a good start.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley.  The opinions expressed above are my own.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday Headlines

Here are the headlines that caught my eye this week:

*Canadian author Alistair MacLeod, winner of the 2001 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, has died at the age of 77.

*A CBC Books poll determined that Anne Shirley is Canada's most iconic character.

*Bookstores are using creative means when it comes to organizing titles.  This Guardian article shares some of the odder book sections.

*The Guardian has also compiled a list of 10 authors to see live.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

24 Hour Readathon

It's time for another Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon!  This time around I have decided to use this time to knock a few books off my Netgalley shelf.  Here is what I hope to read today:


I will be doing my updates on this post and probably completing most challenges on Twitter or Instagram so be sure to check me out there! (@goodbooksandtea)

End of Event Meme

1) Which hour was most daunting for you?
Around hour 14 was when I realized that things weren't going to last much longer.

2) Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
Every Day is for the Thief by Teju Cole was good because it's a novella, it has fantastic photography, and really keeps your interest.

3) Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
Nope, as always it was wonderfully organized and a lot of fun.

4) What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
The social media component was great and the website was very well organized.

5)How many books did you read?
3 completed, plus one more.

6)What were the names of the books you read?
The Here and Now by Ann Brashares, Every Day is for the Thief by Teju Cole, Skinny Bitch Gets Hitched by Kim Barnouin, Prada and Prejudice by Katie Oliver

7) Which book did you enjoy most?  8)Which did you enjoy least?
Honestly, I enjoyed them all equally, nothing stood out as better or worse.

9) If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
N/A

10) How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
I'll definitely participate again, I love this event.  I think I may sign up to be a cheerleader the next time.

Final Update
Another readathon is finished!  I really enjoyed this one, got a lot of reading done, didn't get lost in the internet and waste precious reading time, all around it was a good one.

Books Finished: 3 (The Here and Now, Every Day is for the Thief, Skinny Bitch Gets Hitched)
Total Pages Read: 846

Update 4
And this is where I fall asleep while reading.  It's been a wonderful day but it is certainly time for bed.  I'm taking my iPad with me and plan to do a bit more reading.  I hope to get halfway through a novel I started last night.  I don't plan to set my alarm as I naturally wake up early so I'm hoping I'll be able to get in at least one last hour of reading in the morning.  Hope you all have had a wonderful readathon as well!

Update 3
Well we are passed the halfway mark now and this looks to be my most successful readathon yet.  I've just finished book #3 along with a tea and cinnamon bun from Tim Horton's.  I've completed the three books I had hoped to so now I'm going to move onto finishing ones I had started previous to today.

Books Read: 3 (The Here and Now, Every Day is for the Thief, Skinny Bitch Gets Hitched)
Pages Read: 730

Update 2
It's after 2pm and I just finished the novella.  My next book should be a fun, easy read as it's a sequel to a book I had a great time reading.  I'm going to get started quickly as it will soon be time to take the kids out to their "engagements" (my daughter has a much busier social schedule than I do.)

Books Read: 2 (The Here and Now, Every Day is for the Thief)
Pages Read: 410

Update 1
It's almost noon, and I have completed one book so I'm feeling good about that.  My next choice is a novella, so hopefully I'll be able to keep the momentum going.

Books Read: 1 (The Here and Now)
Pages Read: 288


Introduction

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Lovely (though still cold) Toronto Ontario.
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
All of them actually, they're very different and I've been wanting to read all of them.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
Believe it or not I don't have any snacks planned.  I think I will take a Tim Horton's break at some time though.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
I'm a wife and stay at home mom of two wonderful kids.  I love yoga, British television, Dutch football, and the Toronto Blue Jays!
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
I'm just going to go along and get in as much reading as I can.  Differently from last time, I'll try to spend less time online and more reading.

Friday, April 25, 2014

"Tempting Fate" by Jane Green

For the past twenty years, Gabby has been happily married to Elliott, having settled into life in Connecticut with their two daughters.  And even though Ellott has made the decision that there will be no more children, something Gabby desperately wants, she never doubts her love for him or how wonderful her life is because of him.  Until one night while out with the girls she meets Matt.

Matt is a young, successful entrepreneur who knows all the right things to say to Gabby.  He makes her feel young and beautiful and though she knows it is just harmful flirting, she lets herself fall into the fantasy.  It should have ended that night but Gabby allows it to go further until one moment destroys everything she has.

Tempting Fate by Jane Green is a novel that looks at the old adage of wondering if the grass is greener on the other side.  A story of marriage, betrayal, and forgiveness, it is a simple story with a powerful message.

I always look forward to a new novel from Jane Green.  Though her books may be classified as women’s fiction, the subject matter stretches across genres and she tells what should instead be classified as great stories.  The premise of the book is simple - Gabby is a happily married woman in her forties who feels like something is missing and when a young man starts to show her some attention she loses herself, and possibly her family, getting caught up in the moment.

I’m torn on this book.  I think Green did a great job of showcasing this world that exists, of women who have dedicated many years of their lives to their families and as those families begin to change, they find themselves unsure of what to do next or even of who they are.  I think it’s great that Green shows that the potential for infidelity exists in many relationships, good and bad.  But I just couldn’t accept the character of Gabby.  It’s not the choices she makes, for me it was the lack of emotion that surrounded it all, I just couldn’t feel any.  And with the lack of emotion I had surrounding her, I had hoped the other characters would make up for it but I felt like a lot of that was glossed over or rushed.  As well,  the ending all wrapped up much quicker than I felt it should have, considering the way the rest of the story was given so much time.

There is a lot I appreciate about the premise of the novel.  I think it’s interesting to see the infidelity story in which it is the woman cheating and we also get to know her motives and feelings firsthand.  All of the characters felt real and honest and like people I meet on the street everyday as opposed to those people you end up wondering where they live because you know no one like that. I also liked how some parts are told from the husbands perspective so it is not just a one-sided story.  But there were parts of the novel from Elliott’s perspective that I felt took away from it being Gabby’s story.  I couldn’t tell if the intent was just to be her story or both of theirs.  


At the end of it all, this is a hard one to pin down as to who will like it and who will not.  Opinion seems to be divided and Gabby is a character that people can see in many different ways.   I’m sure there are many people out there who will be able to relate to Gabby’s feelings (not necessarily her situation).   However, as I finished the book, I felt it was an interesting read and a quick escape which was nice, but the lack of emotion left me wanting more.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley.  The opinions expressed above are my own.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"All My Puny Sorrows" by Miriam Toews

What do you do when someone you love wants you to help them die?

Elfrieda and Yolandi are funny, smart, and loving sisters who grew up in a boundary pushing Mennonite family in Manitoba.  As adults, they are two very different women.  Elf is a world-renowned pianist, wealthy and happily married.  Yolandi is twice divorced with two kids desperately trying to find true love.  But together the sisters share a struggle that is hurting their family.  Elf wants to end her life and she wants Yoli to help her do it. 

All My Puny Sorrows, by Miriam Toews, is a heartbreaking, tender and yet humourous novel about love, family, grief, and responsibility.  With a flood of emotions, it touches a difficult topic in an honest and incredible way.

The subject matter of the book along with Toews’ gentle way of approaching it makes this a difficult book to read in one go.  The emotions are so understated, I didn’t feel them creeping up on me.  I had to keep putting the book down and reading something else so I could digest it all.  And it makes sense that it would be this way given the fact that Toews has drawn on her own life for this book.  Just like Yoli, Toews’ own sister committed suicide as well as her father, and also like Yoli, she brought her mother to live with her and her kids in Toronto so they could rebuild after the tragedies.  As you read the book, you read knowing that this is her heart on the page.  And it has you questioning just what you would do if you were in that situation.

As I have mentioned there are so many emotions that the reader feels with this book.  The sorrow and sadness of Elf’s situation, the pain inside of her that she can’t shake.  The heartbreak that Yoli feels as she tries to decide if she will do what her beloved older sister is asking of her.  I felt anger at the attitude of the psychiatrist “caring” for Elf when she is in intensive care after a suicide attempt.  It is appalling, mostly because you understand that this is still the way mental illness is looked at and treated.  And I felt so much love toward the characters.  I absolutely loved the rebellion throughout the family, against their community and societal attitudes.  They are broken people navigating the world the best way they know how, far from perfect and very endearing.


I was drawn in by the incredible writing style of this book, how it is tender but packs a big punch.  This is a difficult subject to write about in general and to be able to write it with tenderness as well as humour is a big undertaking and Toews does it perfectly.  This is a book that will make you both laugh and cry over such a heart-breaking issue.  

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Random House of Canada.  The opinions expressed above are my own.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday Headlines

Here are some literary articles that caught my eye this week

*Readers, writers, bloggers have all been talking about this lately - diversity in books and why publishers aren't doing enough.  Buzzfeed shares why diversity is not enough.

*The Toronto Public Library chose Steven Galloway's The Cellist of Sarajevo as their One Book for 2014.  To celebrate, 22 cellists will be playing in 22 spots in Toronto over 22 days.

*A decline in male readers is worrying authors says The Guardian.

*As everyone knows, Gabriel Garcia Marquez has passed away.

*If you're Canadian, you know Winnie The Pooh's back story from the CBC Heritage Minute.  Now, Ryerson University is exploring his history in an exhibit.

Friday, April 18, 2014

"Deep Thoughts From a Hollywood Blonde" by Jennie Garth

If you were a teenager in the 90’s, you probably caught an episode of Beverly Hils 90210 (or all ten seasons.)  And you probably recognize one of the show’s famous blondes, Jennie Garth.  From the moment Kelly Taylor came on the screen, Jennie was thrust into the spotlight and with the rest of the cast became an instant celebrity.   Since then she has had a career in Hollywood that has spanned over two decades which she is sharing about in her new memoir Deep Thoughts From A Hollywood Blonde

Why did she decide to write a book now?  Jennie found herself at a new point in her life.  At the age of 40 she was newly divorced and raising her three daughters as a single mother.  After years of focusing on her family rather than her acting career, she found herself, and her life, in all of the tabloids.  So she decided to tell the story herself, juicy bits and all.

I picked this book up because I was such a big fan of 90210 growing up.  I’m pretty sure I was a little too young to be watching it (I had a sister seven years older than me who was watching it and those were the days of one television set in the house) but nonetheless I watched every episode of every season.  I still watch reruns of my favourite episodes every once in a while.  So of course I wanted to know all of the behind the scenes stories, especially the details of what Shannen Doherty was really like.  

Unfortunately, 90210 fans are going to be disappointed when they find that Jennie either has a terrible memory or she just doesn’t care.  She gets many details of the show wrong (sorry Jennie, but you guys didn’t graduate from high school in season 7 and Luke Perry didn’t join the show in the summer series.)  She also mentions how she didn’t want her pregnancy to be shown in the show because she didn’t want people to think she was supporting teenage sex, but that wouldn’t have been an issue since her character was 22 years old when Jennie became pregnant.  Pointing out things like this may seem like I’m being a little too much of a nerdy fan, but if I can remember these things from when I was a teenager, I would think she would be able to remember them as the actress who played the part.

Okay, that part aside, the 90210 bits were fun to read.  I found myself often putting down the book to go look up pictures on the internet or go find certain episodes.  As she looked back at the mania that surrounded the cast of the show, I couldn’t help but think how fortunate she was that social media and the paparazzi weren’t as prevalent as they are now.  


It’s nice to read a memoir of a celebrity who had a normal life and didn’t struggle with anything that would send you to rehab.  That being said, at the end of the day, this didn’t have anything earth-shattering.  Once she started talking about her divorce the book felt more like a self-help book for women in the same position.  There’s a lot of introspection which I’m sure would help a lot of people, but for someone who hasn’t been there, I couldn't understand it.  If there is something in her story that you can relate to then you may enjoy this book.  But if, like me, you just want to go back to the good old 90210 days, I suggest borrowing the book.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"Landing Gear" by Kate Pullinger

Spring 2010.  Ash from a volcano in Iceland has closed the airspace over Europe.  With most of her colleagues in local radio stranded abroad, Harriet jumps at the opportunity to further her career.  But a chance encounter with a man from her past ruins everything.  Meanwhile, Harriet’s husband Michael is stuck in Toronto and staying with an old flame, while their teenage son Jack who is off from school and on his own finds himself in a lot of trouble.  Emily is a young television researcher who has just lost her father to a heart attack.  And Yacub is a migrant worker from Pakistan, stranded in a labour camp in Dubai after the project he is working on goes bust.

Fast forward two years and all of these lives come crashing together when Yacub falls out of the landing gear of an airplane and lands on Harriet’s car in a supermarket parking lot.

Landing Gear, by Kate Pullinger, is an intriguing page-turner that brings many aspects of modern society - the internet, airplanes, immigration, the nuclear family - together.  Based on a newspaper article written a decade ago about a stowaway who fell from a plane and landed in a supermarket parking lot, the book explores what would happen if a stowaway survives and in doing so weaves together the complexities of modern life.

Right from the first page of this book I was hooked.  A stowaway falling from a plane, that’s the type of story I’d want to read in the newspaper.  And the volcanic eruption of 2010 had me wondering what our skies would be like if all of the planes were grounded.  But mostly, I was intrigued by the writing style.  Short chapters, different points of view, and parts where the thoughts of three different characters are unfolding all on the same page, this is a well-written and unique novel.  I love the way the stories, the characters, and their secrets all unfolded throughout the book, just the right amount of information to keep you going.

I enjoyed reading the stories of all these characters and really liked how they were all weaved together, to form a unique family in a sense.  I’ll admit that I found the reactions of Yacub and Harriet odd when Yacub fell from the sky, but other than that, everything comes together nicely.  The themes of falling, landing, and taking risks run throughout the book in a creative way.  I just love the way everyones lives intersect and how their stories move along.  There was no one character I wanted to read more or less than the others.


I had a hard time putting this book down to go to bed.  As soon as I woke up, I had to finish it.  It flows which makes it easy to read.  I recommend this as one of springs top reads and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it appear on many end of the year or awards lists.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Random House of Canada.  The opinions expressed above are purely my own.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Headlines - Top Ten Edition

Here are some of the headlines that caught my eye this week, all lists of ten.

*Ten authors to follow on Twitter from The Savvy Reader.

*CBC Books shares ten amazing author statues.

*Are you a dictionary fanatic? Here are ten great reads the National Post thinks you might like.

*The Celebrity Cafe thinks these ten YA books should be adapted into movies.

*The Guardian lists the top ten books about missing persons.

*Here are the ten mistakes non comic book fans make about comic books, courtesy of What Culture (my husband will probably tell you I have made all ten.)

Friday, April 11, 2014

"The Ever After of Ashwin Rao" by Padma Viswanathan

In 1985, an Air India flight leaving Vancouver, Canada blew up off the coast of Ireland.  The majority of people on board were Canadians of Indian ancestry.  It wasn’t until 2004 that two suspects were finally put on trial for what is the largest mass murder in Canadian history.

Ashwin Rao is an Indian psychologist who was trained in Canada but returned to India after the bombing took the lives of his sister and niece and nephew.  But the trial brings him back to Canada, to do a study on comparative grief by interviewing people who lost a loved one in the attack.  This brings him into contact with the Sethuratnam family, and their friend Venkat who lost his wife and son.  As Ashwin becomes wrapped up in their lives, he finds himself trying to deal with the emotional fallout of his own loss.

The Ever After of Ashwin Rao by Padma Viswanathan looks at the emotions, grief, and recovery of one of the darkest days in Canadian history through the lens of fiction.  In addition to following the political and cultural turmoil in India that were the reasons for the attack, the book takes aim at the failure of the Canadian government to respond to and show outrage.

The book travels through the decades and through the world to give a complete picture of the events that led up to the incident.  I was surprised to find that Venkat and the Sethuratnams are given so much space in the book, however, their stories set against Ashwin’s show that grief and terror affect everyone differently.  

This is a sweeping novel that covers so much culture and history and that is one of the strengths of the novel to me.  I was too young to understand what happened at the time, but I know of the bombing because of the trial coverage.  This book has filled in every gap for me and given me a much better understanding.  It has certainly led to some outrage of my own to the way the Canadian government has handled the issue.

That being said, there was something missing to make this novel a favourite and I can’t put my finger on it.  I know it lies in the writing style, there were parts that for me just dragged the story along.  It wasn’t too much that it put me off wanting to finish the book, but it definitely took me longer to read than a book usually does.  I also wonder how the book will appeal to people outside of Canada or India who don't already feel a connection to it, as I found the politics of the novel more interesting than the journey of the characters.


For me, this book is summed up in this quote - “Mostly, in those days, I was musing on how limited the catalogue is of horrors people have perpetrated on one another through history” (p. 229).  Because of this, it is an important novel.  From 1985 on, the Air India bombing has been viewed as another country’s problem.  But no matter where their roots lie, the people on the plane and the people who perpetrated this crime were Canadian.  It’s not their problem, it’s our problem.  And as long as people continue to act in this manner toward others, the grief and emotions of it all will transcend borders.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Random House of Canada.  The opinions expressed above are purely my own.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunday Headlines

Here are a few literary headlines that caught my eye this week:

*Some bookstores are closing while others are thriving - is it the end of the independent bookstore?

*Elle magazine asked 12 great female authors to recommend their favourite female authors.

*Here are 10 famous literary characters based on real life people

*Yann Martel reflects on life and the book that brought him fame.

*It is common for book covers to change between hardcover and paperback, but titles?

Friday, April 4, 2014

"Up, Up, and Away" by Jonah Keri

2014 is a difficult year for Montreal Expos fans.  It’s the 20th anniversary of the strike that hurt baseball in Montreal, and the 10th anniversary of the year the team left the city for Washington, DC.  But it doesn’t mean that the Expos aren’t still beloved by people across the country, and the rumours that Major League Baseball will come back to the city aren't going anywhere.

I grew up on the Montreal Expos.  To this day I still find it strange to watch baseball on television without French commentary.  The Expos logo factored heavily in my childhood wardrobe and I could find my way to the stadium on the Metro long before I could find the way to my hometown team on the subway.  So when I saw the book Up, Up, and Away: The Kid, the Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, le Grand Orange, Youppi!, the Crazy Business of Baseball, and the Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos by Jonah Keri, I knew it was going to be a grand slam.

Every so often a new book about the Expos comes out and I always buy them for my dad.  But this is the first book I have found that expertly covers the history of the ball club from beginning to end.  Keri grew up in Montreal so in addition to adding the perspective of a lifelong fan, he seems to have interviewed everyone he could find ever attached to the club, including the people responsible for some of our more negative memories.  Players, owners, politicians, fans, all of their perspectives are brought to the book.

I was born after the Expos came to Montreal so most of the first half of the book was all new information to me and filled in the stories my dad told me of the team growing up.  But the second half was a beautiful stroll down memory lane.  My husband sat on the couch next to me as I yelled out names (“Andres Galaraga!”, “Delino DeShields!”) and we reminisced of many great baseball memories.

There are so many great stories directly from the players, the anecdotes are the strength of this book.  I also loved the inclusion of the drawings from Montreal editorial cartoonist Aislin and extras like the collection of French baseball terms.  I only wish there had been more photographs than what were included, I feel as though there was so much more that needed to be in pictures.


This book is a love letter to a team and to a city and anyone interested in baseball will appreciate it.  You don’t have to be an Expos kid like me to enjoy the book, it’s also about the business of sport, what goes on off the field to bring it to us, and the dedication of those who watch.  Five out of five stars to this book, not just for the memories, but also for the accomplishment of putting the whole story of the Expos to paper.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Random House of Canada.  The opinions expressed above are purely my own.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

"Boy, Snow, Bird" by Helen Oyeyemi

In 1953, Boy Novak arrives in a small town in Massachusetts, hoping to escape her difficult and violent life in New York.  She settles in and marries local widower Arturo Whitman, becoming stepmother to his daughter Snow.  Boy never imagined she would fall into the role of wicked stepmother but it soon happens.  When Boy gives birth to a daughter whose dark skin exposes a long-kept secret of the Whitman’s, Snow finds herself sent away from her own home.  Separately and together, Boy, Snow, and Bird all struggle against the forces of beauty and the power the mirror holds over them.

Called a re-telling of the fairy tale Snow White, Boy, Snow, Bird, is the fifth novel from Helen Oyeyemi, a writer who was recently named one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists.  Known for incorporating myth and fairy tales into her work, Oyeyemi tackles race in a pre-civil rights era America in this book.

While all of the marketing for the book refers to this as a re-telling of Snow White, it really isn’t.  There are a few familiar elements - the mirrors, an “evil” stepmother, and a girl named Snow - but for the most part you’ll be hard pressed to find comparisons. 

The parts of the book that I did find interesting were when it tackled the issues of race.  Upon giving birth to Bird, Boy discovers that her husband and his family are African-Americans who have been passing as white.  This is a topic that is very real, that is rooted in history, and really helps to tell the story of race relations in the United States.  However, I found that the book did not go deep enough into the subject to really get a feel for the time period or for the emotions of it all.

For me there were quite a few parts of the book that dragged and quite a few parts that picked up and had me interested.  Reading this book was up and down.  I kept reading because I was wanting and expecting more of the story.  But it wasn’t until the end of the book that I began to feel any emotion for the characters involved.


This is a tough one for me to write about.  I really wanted to like it and I have been looking forward to it for months.  But I couldn’t get into the magical elements of the book and the parts that were real just weren’t enough for me.  Oyeyemi has a beautiful writing style but unfortunately it wasn’t enough for me.