Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A STOLEN LIFE by Jaycee Dugard

Jaycee Dugard suffered unspeakable horror for 18 years.  Kidnapped by a pedophile at age eleven and kept for 18 years, Dugard bore two children and came to depend upon her captor all while striving to maintain her “self” and remember her “real” family, especially her mother. 
Her memoir tells of her heroism and fortitude in the face of unrelenting adversity.  Often the voice of that eleven year old is heard; often the voice of a struggling 19 year old woman and mother is heard.  She, at times, voices a maturity earned through pain. She struggles to shield her children from the press even while acknowledging the impossibility of that task.  She struggles to heal herself and rejoin the “normal’ world.
It is impossible to read this memoir without suffering with Jaycee. It is also impossible to justify a critical review of this book.  5 of 5 stars

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

In an interesting twist on the pre-Civil War story of slavery, Grissom presents us with an Irish child orphaned on the ocean crossing and delivered into the life of an indentured servant. Because Lavinia is only 6 years old as the tale begins, she is handed over to the “house slaves” to raise by the master of the house.  Belle, who ultimately becomes Lavinia’s “mother/sister,” is the master’s illegitimate daughter and receives many privileges because of this relationship.  Promised her freedom by the master, Belle unhappily comes under the eye of the master’s son who is unduly influenced by the evil overseer. 
Grissom has written an engrossing tale of life of “house slave, “field slave” and bullied and frightened wife. The characters are clearly written, the scenes are believable, the secrets are many.  The plot will grab your interest from the first page and keep you reading to the final page.  Grissom has a clear vision of plantation life, family relationships, and the fear engendered by powerlessness.  The tempo of the story gains momentum as the characters reveal their lies, secrets, loves, hopes and fears as Lavinia grows from child to adult.
5 of 5 stars