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Monday, March 31, 2014

12 YEARS A SLAVE by SOLOMON NORTHUP




I never thought I would say this but …. Go see the movie.   The story is important but the book is ponderous.  The writing is old fashioned enough to make it difficult for the modern reader.  I was glad I read this on my e-reader so I could easily look up all the many “archaic” words.  The punctuation also forces the reader to slow down and re-read portions to understand what is being said in this autobiography.
The book relates the experiences of a free black man who is kidnapped by slavers in Washington, DC and taken to Louisiana where he is sold into slavery. It takes 12 long years for him to be found, released from bondage and returned to wife and children.  He suffers under both cruel and mild masters as he shares life with other bound persons.  Northup also relates the stories of other persons he suffers with. You will feel Patsey’s pain as she is whipped into submission and suffer with Elisa as her small children are wrenched from her and sold away never to be seen again.
This biography needs to be told. Perhaps another writer will make the story come alive for the modern reader.
3 of 5 stars

TRICKSTERS POINT by William Kent Krueger




If you are looking for a literate mystery with well-developed characters and a convincing, challenging plot, this is the book for you.  Krueger’s latest chapter in the life of his Cork O’Conner character will have you guessing until the last pages. 
Several characters from Cork’s past have reason to kill off Cork’s childhood friend, rising politician Jubal Little.  When Little’s life is cut short in the middle of his gubernatorial campaign, Cork is the prime suspect until others reveal their animosity.  Cork’s family and friends, as well as a few enemies, all come under suspicion in this tightly plotted mystery leavened with near poetic descriptions of the area around Trickster’s Point.   The many layers to the mystery of Jubal’s death are only revealed in the final pages. 
An excellent way to spend some time with a fine author, Native American traditions and the northern reaches of Minnesota.
5 of 5 stars

Sunday, March 2, 2014

THE WORKHOUSE GIRL by Dilly Court



Sarah, the workhouse girl of the title, is followed from age 6 to about age 20 in this young adult novel.  Poor Sarah rockets from one dismal situation after another, extricating herself (or being extricated) only to fall into another awful mess.  Along the way we meet several villains and a few heroes and heroines. The characters are stock characters with one “noble rascal” to relieve the standardization.
This is a quick read that moves from one unlikely situation to another, but does eventually reach a not quite foregone conclusion.  The writing is okay, the dialogue pedestrian, but the tempo is non-stop.  Tweens will love it. Teens will enjoy the action and like the very mild romance. Parents have nothing to fear beyond a few somewhat “bad” words, a few kisses along with some mild innuendo and lots of outright cruelty.
Adults will likely find the believable factor  too implausible to read past the middle of the book and may just skip to the conclusion. Then they will discover they have missed several plot points. 
3 of 5 stars