Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Historical Fiction

Ok, I try not to gloat too much but I have two things to say that I can't hold in:

I just finished reading Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty, the very last Jessica Darling book. It was perfect. I feel like doing a little dance. I'll write a full review later this week. Just be sure to look out for it when it comes out next month!

And, for another book that's not supposed to come out until next month, my local Barnes and Noble had Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! on display already (I've noticed they often have books available early. I wonder if that's where Dan scored my early copy of Deathly Hallows?) How could I not pick it up?

Ok, gloating done.

This week's Weekly Geeks is all about Historical Fiction. I haven't answered the questions yet-- I'm still thinking about the answers, but here are 2 reviews of historical fiction.

The Porcupine Year Louise Erdich

In the follow up to Birchbark House and The Game of Silence, this is the year of travel as Omakayas and her family move from Madeline Island to the North West, facing weather, disaster, and moving into hostile territory. This is almost more episodic than the previous two, due to the ever-changing location. There is great tragedy and heartbreak in this book, but parts of very funny, and Erdich carries through the richness, closeness, and importance of family and sticking together, no matter what. I recommend starting with the other two to get a sense of everything they had to leave behind, but this is my favorite of the series so far and I think it would stand alone, just carry less impact.

Ten Cents a Dance Christine Fletcher

After her mother loses her job, Ruby drops out of school to take support the family. Like everyone in her Polish neighborhood in Chicago, Ruby takes a job at one of the packing houses. After a night dancing, Ruby runs into local bad by Paulie, who tells her that she can make a lot more money by being a dance instructor at the Starlight Academy. The Starlight, however, is a taxi-dance hall where lonely men pay tent cents a dance to hold a pretty girl close until the song ends. Not a respectable job, Ruby tells her mother she’s working as a telephone operator. Between her new job and her relationship with Paulie, she soon finds herself over her head.

Through Ruby’s eyes, the reader travels from Chicago’s white slums, to after hours clubs and all-night chop suey joints, to the fringes of the city’s underbelly in the early days of WWII. Fletcher explores Chicago’s race and class tensions with a sensitive hand, never making them the focus of her story, but using them to paint the world that Ruby inhabits. Ruby’s voice is peppered with period slang and references, but just enough to give her authenticity, but not to the point of overwhelming the text. Readers will sympathize with Ruby’s drive to help her family coupled with her desire for excitement and freedom.


Anonymous said...

I am SOOOOOOOOOOO damn jealous you got to read Perfect Fifths!

Becky said...

I've awarded you with a Zombie Chicken :)

The 'random' word today: daing