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Showing posts from November, 2019

Love, Loyalty and Lost Chances: “An American Marriage” by Tayari Jones

There have been so many reviews and opinions written about “An American Marriage” that I did wonder if there was any point in me adding my two pence. There have been so many reviews and opinions written about “An American Marriage” that I did wonder if there was any point in me adding my two pence.

“An American Marriage” examines what it means to be black in America today, by studying the effects of incarceration on the psyche of black Americans, and the impact this has on some rather complicated relationships. It’s a love story, but not in the traditional way, as it’s not the Happy Ever After that takes centre-stage, but the disintegration of a marriage.

Roy and Celestial are seemingly the perfect couple by general Hollywood standards: young, attractive, smart, and ambitious. They are university-educated, and Celestial at least, comes from an affluent family. They start off seeming to be very much in love, although not without their moments of conflict. There is tenderness between them…

When still waters run deep: Searching for Sylvie Lee, Jean Kwok

I missed the boat with Girl In Translation, but I was thrilled to be able to get my hands on a copy of Jean Kwok’s latest novel. 
“Searching for Sylvie Lee” is a tale of many things: an immigrant Chinese family trying to make a life in the United States; the sibling relationship between two sisters; family rivalries & loyalties; grief and loss; and a missing person mystery, all rolled into one. The search for Sylvie is only a part of what it is all about, as all of the characters seem to be searching for something precious. Searching for love, searching for acceptance, searching for a place to belong, even searching for the family jewels. It is also about the pain of separation from the people and places we love, with most of the characters living in some sort of exile, whether it’s Ma and Pa living away from China, or Sylvie’s double exile, first from her parents, and then from Lukas and the Netherlands. But above all, it is a book about searching for that one person who sees us a…

For Evil to Triumph, all it Takes is for Women to Say Nothing: Vox, by Christina Dalcher

VOX imagines a terrifying dystopian society where women are only allowed to utter 100 words a day. They are forced to wear a metal cuff that counts the number of words they say and for every word spoken over the 100 word limit, the device delivers an electric shock of increasing strength. Men have no such restrictions. The premise of the book sounded interesting, and I liked the look of the cover (I know, I know, don’t judge a book etc, but we all do it) but it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, and I suspect that that is the reason I found it disappointing in many ways.
The protagonist is Jean, short for Giovanna, a former neurolinguistics professor and researcher (like Dalcher herself) who, when the book opens, is inwardly raging at her own lack of power to stand up for herself and her small daughter, Sonia. She resents the complicity of the men in her life – her husband Patrick and teenage son Steven – in upholding the new order. However, Jean’s professional background then attract…