Monday, January 07, 2008

Weighty Tomes

The Cybils are now all up! Check you the new shortlists!

So, as I'm part of the judging committee for MG/YA nonfic, y'all know what I'm reading for the next month. Very cool.

Anyway, since Christmas, I have read 3 books that were freakin' long. (I mean, I've read more than 3, but 3 of the ones I've read were freakin' long, if that makes sense)

So, here are the looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong books.

First up,

Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passion, and Betrayal Mal Peet

One of my favorites of 2007, the main story of Tamar is about the Dutch resistance at the end of WWII.

There are two Tamars, one is the fifteen year old in mid-90s England, trying to make sense of her grandfather's apparent suicide, her missing father, and her grandmother who is slipping further and further into dementia. Before he died, Tamar's grandfather left her a box of random things she has to figure out to put everything into perspective.

The other Tamar is the code name for a resistance leader, a Dutch man who escaped to England and was sent back to the Netherlands by the British in order to organize the various resistance groups to work together. He works with his wireless operator, Dart.

Between the two comes the beautiful Marijke, the young woman who lives on the farm where Tamar is stationed. She and Tamar have had a long relationship, unknown to Dart. As Dart's addition to amphetamines grows (he takes them to be awake at odd hours to send/receive transmissions), so does his paranoia.

What is most remarkable is that this is a story of boredom. The never ending tension that comes when nothing happens and you expect the Gestapo to come for you at any minute.

Even though I had the mystery bit figured out stupidly early on, before I was even sure if there was a mystery bit to figure out, the story still gripped me. It wasn't so much about the outcome, but why and how it happened.

Also, how the boredom can drive you insane. Remarkable.

It's on my list of possible Printz winners...

Spring Moon Bette Bao Lord

So, this is an adult novel by the author of In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson.

Spring Moon is born at the end of the nineteenth century to the old house of Chang in Soochow (Suzhou). Through her eyes, and the lives of her uncles, we watch the history of modern China unfold and the effects it had on the life of one woman and her family.

There's a good time line of events in the back, but it still might be a little confusing for people who aren't familiar with 20th century Chinese history might be a little confused. (Heck, I am very familiar with 20th century Chinese history and sometimes I had to stop and think about what rebellion was happening...)

Overall though, a very nice sweeping epic tale.

Redeeming Love Francine Rivers

This book was recommended to me by my friend Marie after a conversation about Inspirational Fiction. Now, I don't read a lot of Inspirational Fiction. I'm not really a member of the target audience. Reading it was an interesting experience.

This is the biblical story Hosea retold in the goldrush California. Angel was sold into prostitution as a child. Micheal Hosea sees her and marries her and tries to redeem her, however, she keeps running away. She runs both because she sees marriage as just another form of bondage and then, when she starts to fall in love, because she thinks her past makes her unworthy.

I got pretty into it, even thought I disagreed with a lot of the theology initially (the ending redeemed it a bit for me. No pun intended.)

Anyway, throughout most of the book, marriage *is* just another form of bondage for Angel, but we're not supposed to see it as that because Michael's a good guy with good intentions, so what he does is ok. So the whole thing, initially is a bit anti-feminist. But, the final time Angel runs away, Michael lets her, and it's not until she settles things with herself that she's ok to go back to her marriage. So, I wasn't nearly so sour after that.

Also, I was a little irked at how Michael didn't want to be told about the worst things Angel had done in her life. He had already forgiven her. Granted, she was only telling him as a means to drive him away, almost testing him BUT if he's going to truly love her and truly forgive her, then shouldn't he know these things? How can he truly forgive a sin he doesn't know?

I also was irked by the use of the term "Celestial" to refer to Chinese people. I could understand it when the characters used it, because it was what they would have said, but when the narrator does? Ew.

Overall, it didn't fundamentally change my relationship with God the way the back promised it would, but it was a very interesting look into a genre I usually don't read. Also, I really got into the story. Although long, it was a quick read and I stayed up way past bedtime to finish it.

1 comment:

Susan said...

yeah Tamar!! it is on my library's short list for mock Printz. Our "awards" are tomorrow and I have the honor of presenting Tamar. woohoo!