Kindred By Octavia Butler

60931

Kindred

Written By Octavia Butler

Published by Doubleday 1979 (hardcover)

Published by Beacon Press 1988 (paperback)

264 pages

Kindred is the story of Dana a writer living in California in the 1970’s with her husband Kevin. One day out of nowhere Dana is taken back in time to antebellum south where she encounters a young boy named Rufus who is drowning. Dana saves Rufus and we quickly find out that the two have a connection.  Dana is transported several times never knowing exactly how long she will stay but, it’s always when Rufus is in trouble. Time moves slower in the present than in the past, at one point Dana is stuck in the past for 8 months but, when she returns home it’s only been a few hours.  Rufus lives with his father and mother on their plantation where of course they own slaves. Through the course of time Dana meets and interacts with these slaves, comes to know some of them and, learns the connection some of them have to her life.

Kindred is billed as a science fiction book , Octavia Butler a science fiction writer. I have only read a handful of sci-fi in my life so I am no expert in how it’s “supposed” to be done.  All I know is, if this is how it’s done then I am all in. The time travel aspect of this book is never explained,we never find out the “science” part  of the science fiction but it doesn’t matter. Time travel is obviously important to the story but Dana, is the story. There are quite a few characters in the book but Dana and Rufus are what the story revolves around. Rufus is exactly what you would expect. The slave-owning son of a slave owner in antebellum south.  He is cruel, mean,and unreasonable but at times I found myself sympathizing with him. Then I hated myself a little of course. Dana is on my list of favorite characters ever. She is smart and strong yet vulnerable. Her reactions weren’t always what I wanted them to be but, given the circumstances they are the right ones. Dana learns quickly to curb her modern-day tendencies in order to survive even though it doesn’t always keep her out of trouble.

Butler doesn’t spare anyone’s feelings in this book she is raw and graphic. At time it’s difficult to read but also very necessary to the story. Nothing is all black or all white (pun intended). Everyone one is flawed and that’s what makes this book so good.  I found myself feeling bad for people I hated and getting angry with people I should feel bad for. This book was a roller-coaster of emotions and I loved it. I can’t wait to get my hands on more Octavia Butler.

Until Next Time

Mini Reviews

These are some books that I have recently finished reading and, for  one reason or another I just don’t have much to say about them. So, I put them all together into one post and this is it.

Here we go.

To Kill A Mockingbird By Harper Lee

2657

Published 7/11/60 by J.B Lippincott & Co.

So I don’t really think this book needs another review does it? No. I can’t exactly say why it took me till now to read this book considering its my sisters favorite book , and all the hype surrounding it. When hype lasts that long there must be something behind it right? I think the reason it’s taken me so long to read it, has something to do with my perception of the book. I assumed I knew what the story was about and how it ended.  After reading it I was mostly wrong. It didn’t have the ending that I thought it would but, it did follow a pattern I thought it might. Overall I thought the book was really good and I am glad I finally read it.

Amazon  Goodreads

Outside Beauty by Cynthia Kadohata

untitled

Published 12/22/2009 by Antheneum

This was what they call a coming of age story. It was also one of about 4 books I have read recently that  could be put into that category. This is the story of a beautiful woman named Helen who has 4 daughters by 4 vastly different men. The book is narrated by Shelby the 2nd daughter. Helen is incredibly beautiful, selfish, vain, and narcissistic.She uses her beauty to seduce and use men to get what she wants. Helen is also a truly terrible mother. There is no other way to put it she is just bad yet, her daughters adore her.  Helen is involved in a serious car accident and must stay in the hospital so the girls are split up and sent to live with their fathers, with whom they have had minimal contact with and, who live in different parts of the country.I really enjoyed the parts that revolved around Shelby getting to know her father they were sweet and sincere.  Shelby’s dad was a great character and I would have liked more of him.  The book is really about these girls being torn apart and them trying to find their way back to each other anyway they can. The end was a little to neatly wrapped up for me and I just couldn’t get over that. I think  I liked it enough to think about picking up another book from this author.

Amazon  Goodreads

The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

hl

Published 3/8/2011 by Broadway

I’m not going to summarize this because I don’t think I can summarize it well. Click the link to either goodreads or Amazon if you want to know about it. This book was fascinating. The idea that this one woman’s cells have had such a huge effect in the medical community  is amazing. Having said that I can’t say I actually liked the book.I can understand why so many people love it because the whole idea surrounding it is amazing and scary, and well, fascinating. I think the problem for me was the mix of the scientific with the story about Henrietta it just didnt’ mesh well for me. I really had to push myself to read the last 1/3 of this book it became a chore almost. I heard they were going to make this into a movie and I think it might actually translate better on-screen.

Amazon  Goodreads

No One You Know by Michelle Richmond

2512103

Published 5/19/2009 by Bantam

I listened to the audiobook and the fact the narrator saved this book from being as boring as it could have been. If not for the her I may have stopped this book after just a few chapters. A great narrator can make a so-so book better. The problem was the book was just boring. The story revolves around 2 sister Ellie and Lila. Lila is the older sister, and a math prodigy and a murder victim. After Lila is murdered a friend and former teacher of Ellie’s writes a  book about it, and this has huge consequences for Ellie and her parents and, the man who is fingered as the killer in the book. No one is ever charged with the crime and 20 years later Ellie starts looking into the case . It sounds like a great premise but, it never took off for me. There was a lot of really in-depth information of all things math related. The book even goes into details about tsome famous people in the math community. Overall it was just boring. Had I been reading a physical copy of this book I would have put it down. By the end I didn’t even care if the man accused had committed the murder or not.

Amazon  Goodreads

Recruited (Alias) By Lynn Mason

Recruited (Alias) 

An Original Prequel Novel Based On The Hit TV Series Created By J.J Abrams

Written By Lynn Mason Published 2002 By Bantam Books

alias

I love the TV series Alias in fact I fan-girl hard core for all things Alias (and all things Jennifer Garner). I watched the series beginning to end and even though I never got all my questions answered during the series ( umm hello “Deep Throat”)  it was so good it really didn’t matter. So when I stumbled upon a couple of Alias books at my local goodwill I snapped them up without even reading the back. I found books 1&2 in this particular prequel series. Book #1 Recruited takes place when Sydney Bristow is a Freshman at UCLA and has only been friends with Francie for what seems to be less than a year. Recruited is all about Sydney’s life right before and shortly after she is recruited by SD-6. The only series regulars that make an appearance in this book besides Sydney are Francie, and Sloan (although he is only in the book for a very brief scene). Jack Bristow Sydney’s father is mentioned throughout the book but never makes an actual appearance and Will is not on the scene yet. To me this is a book for serious Alias fans. Fans who have imagined what things were like before Sydney learned that SD-6 wasn’t really the CIA.  I did have some problems with the way Sydney was written. In the TV show Alias Sydney is a confident and self assured and can take out almost anyone without hel,p and without  hesitation. I think because I am so use to confident butt kicking Syd I didn’t exactly know if I bought the shy Syd who lacks much in the way of confidence that was in the first 1/2 of the book. However as the book progresses and Sydney begins to move up with in SD-6 you see her confidence grow and I began to accept the depiction of Syd before SD-6. This first book is short on action which is what Alias is known for but that is understandable considering most of the book takes place before she is an official SD-6 agent. There is one action scene at the end of the book and it was pretty well played out. Of course you know Syd is going to make it out so there isn’t any suspense but it does a good job of showing what newbie agent Sydney would be like. Overall I enjoyed the book and I plan to read book 2 fairly soon and, I will be trying to get my hands on the other books in the series.

Silver Sparrow By Tayari Jones

Silver Sparrow

 Written By Tayari Jones

Published 2011 by Algonquin Books

index

Set in a middle-class neighborhood in Atlanta in the 1980s, the novel revolves around James Witherspoon’s two families;the public one and the secret one. When the daughters from each family meet and form a friendship, only one of them knows they are sisters. It is a relationship destined to explode. This is the third stunning novel from an author deemed one of the most important writers of her generation  (Synopsis from goodreads)

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It made me sad in places and there were several things in the book that made me want to pull my hair out. The subject matter is something I find incredibly interesting and while I have watched several movies surrounding it I have never read anything on it.

So the story is split into two parts told from the perspective of both of Jame’s daughters. The first half told by Dana Lynn the secret daughter and the second told by Bunny the” legitimate” daughter. James meets Dana’s mother (Gwendolyn) after he has been married to Bunny’s mother (Laverne) for 10 years. Gwendolyn is well aware of the marriage but starts a relationship anyway. From the time Dana is little she is aware that her father has another family and that no one can know about her or her mother. The only other person who is truly aware of what’s going on is James best friend Raleigh. Raleigh helps keep James secret and fills in for him in Gwendolyn’s and Dana’s lives. Dana and Bunny are born only months apart and grow up in close but separate circles. Eventually they meet and that has some major consequences for everyone.

Throughout Dana’s life she takes a back seat to Bunny without Bunny even knowing. At one point Dana wants to go to a science camp but can’t because Bunny is already going. Later Dana decides what college she wants to go to and the reason it’s OK is because James is pretty sure Bunny wants to go somewhere else.

I can’t say that I actually liked one single character in this book. I feel sorry for some of them and I outright despise others. James is a truly pathetic father he makes no bones about the fact that he has chosen Bunny over Dana. I tried but could not find a single redeeming quality in James. Raleigh is a kind man but kind of a drip. He seems to lack a back bone and I really dislike people without them. Gwendolyn is perhaps my least favorite character. She walked right into this situation and then allowed her child to suffer because of it. The author gives some perspective on why Gwendolyn did what she did and I can understand it what I can’t understand is why she stays in the situation! Don’t get me wrong James is truly awful but as bad as it’s sounds I often expect men to be jerks. A mother that won’t stick up for her child that I can’t get behind. Laverne is a times sympathetic and pathetic. I think she might at least suspect that James is cheating but you never actually get the answer to that. She makes a decision at the end that really bothers me and makes me end up disliking her. Bunny and Dana are the real innocents in this whole story and I felt for both of them for different reasons. Neither of them was truly likable but they did come off sympathetic and I really wanted things to workout for them.

At the end of the day I don’t have to like characters to like a book. These characters may not be likable but they are well written and sometimes complex.This book caught my attention right away and I couldn’t put it down. I ended up finishing this book in a day. The ending prevented me from giving this 5 stars . I felt like after all the depth the book had given up to that point it just left us with nothing at the end.

Long Distance Life By Marita Golden

Long distance life

By Marita Golden

Published by Doubleday March 1, 1995

longdistance

goodreads to read about

amazon to buy it

Have you ever finished reading a book and when you try to talk about it all you can do is make incoherent noises because you can’t find the words to describe it? That’s the way I feel about this book but, I am going to try and put some things at least into words that can be understood. I hope!

This is at the heart a story about a family and about love but, it’s also so much more than that. Naomi is the matriarch of the family. She leaves North Carolina in the great migration and heads for Washington D.C. There she establishes a good life for herself eventually marrying Rayford a good man, and giving birth to their only daughter Esther. Esther grows up in relative comfort but is head strong and stubborn, she drops out of college and becomes involved with Randolph a married man. Randolph and Esther have Logan their oldest son who grows up with the civil rights movement in the background. Esther abandons Logan to be raised by Naomi and Randolph and takes off to help in the civil rights movement in the south. Logan grows up longing for his mothers love and channels that longing into a career as a doctor. Esther eventually returns to Washington and reunites with Randolph and, tries to reestablish a relationship with Logan. Esther becomes pregnant with their second child Nathaniel. In what I see as a way of making up for her past mistakes Esther gives Nathaniel all of the love and more that she never could give to Logan. Nathaniel grows up adored by his mother but restless and he too eventually drops out of college and becomes a drug dealer in his neighborhood.

This is the first work of fiction I have read by Marita Golden I have previously read 2 of her non-fiction works. I knew going in I was going to enjoy her writing style. Marita has a way of making things sound pretty without making them sound forced or fake of fluffy (if that makes any sense). She is eloquent and gets to the point but never makes you feel like you’ve  missed out on something. So many of the things she writes about in this book make me say YES out loud because it sounded so much like my family. There are some major historical events that take place in this book although they are just background they still have profound effects on the characters and their lives and, are handled in just the right way. The first 3/4 of this book are pretty much amazing. I was riveted and engaged and found so many things I could relate to. The last 1/4 wasn’t as strong but was still really good I just felt like I wanted more of Nathaniel’s story then I got.

Overall this book was the kind of book I would read multiple times. Marita Golden was already one of my favorite authors and this book only strengthened that.

Visit Marita Golden’s website and check out her books.Pick something anything and read it you will not be dissapointed. I am going to read through myself and pick something else of hers to read soon!