Monday, January 23, 2017

{Book Reviews} Recent Reads

Between winter hibernation and a backlog of reading material, I've plowed through four books so far this year.  I'm only reviewing three of them here because one is part of a trilogy and I'd like to read the last book and review the trilogy as a whole.  Okay, here we go . . .

Before The Fall
Noah Hawley

I really enjoyed reading this book, but unfortunately, I wasn't a fan of the ending.  I suppose I was looking for something a little less typical.

This story revolves around the before and after of a small plane crash in the waters between Martha's Vineyard and Long Island.  The chapters switch on and off between characters and suspense is in the question of why the plane crashed.    

I did take issue with the believability of the survivor's swim at the beginning.  It was eerily similar to my brother's story which happened many, many years.  My brother was knocked off of his sailboat by a rogue wave in the waters near Nantucket.  This happened in August (same as in the book) so the water was warm but not warm enough to avoid hypothermia.  Here's where I take issue:  1. The currents are so freaking powerful, you can't just swim.  At one point, my brother was close to a buoy but couldn't swim to it because of the currents.  2.  After that much time in the ocean, your mouth is so dried out from the salt water and dehydration that speaking as the character in the novel did, is pushing it.    

So even though I wasn't a fan of the entire book, I would recommend it.  I did enjoy reading it and I think a 4 (out of 5) star rating is justified.

Another Brooklyn
Jacqueline Woodson

This is a poetic, coming-of-age novel set in 1970s Brooklyn.  It's a super quick read - one could finish it in a single sitting.  I highly recommend it, especially if you're looking for a short book.  It's extremely well written by an award winning author.

White Trash:  The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America
Nancy Isenberg

This book was terrible.

It was incredibly dry, impersonal and can best be compared to a lengthly, scholarly essay.  Personally, I found the author's description of history to be one-sided.  This is how the politicians and influential members of society viewed poor whites.  There was never any viewpoint from the supposed white trash themselves.  

There were parts of this book that were rage-inducing.  For example:

"But it is what she was at fifteen that matters: the face of white trash.  Ignorant.  Unrepentant.  Congenitally cruel.  Only capable of replicating the pathetic life into which she was born."

Whose opinion is that?  The author's?  Society's?  The reader is never informed and must assume it is that of the author.

After reading this book, I questioned it's rise in popularity.  Why do I keep seeing it pop up on recommended reading lists?  Why has it won awards?  Honestly, reading White Trash was semi-torturous and the only reason I kept reading was because of its popularity.  I had to read it for myself.  Plus, I never quit reading once I start.  I don't have it in me.

In my opinion, this book is popular for two reasons.  The first, obviously, is the election.  The media is all about explaining Trump's victory so books related to the swing class of voters have become popular.  Think Hillbilly Elegy.  There's also the book's title.  If it had been named "The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America," I don't think as many people would have opted to read it.  It's too scholarly.  Throwing White Trash in there was a smart move.  The phrase is almost like a bad word.  It gives it an edge and instantly makes it more appealing to prospective readers.    

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1 comment:

Teej said...

Yeah, I wish I hadn't wasted two weeks reading "White Trash." Bleh.