Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Room

RoomRoom by Emma Donoghue

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The premise doesn't sound inviting--a woman kidnapped and held prisoner for 7 years in an 11 x 11 room, who bore her kidnapper's child and raised him as best she could in her circumstances. But it is told from her 5 year old son's point of view, which not only makes it palatable, but fascinating. The book sucks you immediately into this other worldly setting, and you are amazed at the courage and strength of Ma. The climax comes early in the book, and it is so good, I was racing home from dropping the kids off to finish it. The latter part of the book lags a bit, and there are some inconsistencies, but all in all this is a book I would highly reccommend--great for a book club read.



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Monday, June 27, 2011

The Lonely Polgamist

The Lonely PolygamistThe Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


My curiousity about modern polygamy peaked about 3 years ago, and I thought the discussion/creative plot-lines with this genre were pretty much exhausted, so I wasn't inclined to pick this book up. Even when it was on best-of lists last year, I didn't bite. But then my BSU alumni magazine came out and a quick browse showed Brady Udall and his much lauded book...I didn't look close enough to realize that Udall teaches at BSU--I thought he had graduated from BSU and so I ran right out to see what a product of my alma matar could produce.

Turns out, it is a pretty good family drama. Although I could never fully sympathize with Golden Richards, the patriarch of this little tribe--he is too passive, too timid, and phlegmatic to really be someone to root for--he probably isn't too different from people we actually know.

The opening scene has Golden arriving home from a long drive, needing desperately to pee, but unable to find an unoccupied bathroom in a house with 3 wives and 27 children. Normally, I roll my eyes at the shock-value authors use to describe bodily functions in the first chapter--which seems to becoming a trend--but this was actually one of the funniest scenes in the book.

The rest of the book is told alternately from a wife's, a child's, and Golden's point of view. Perhaps the most sympathetic (and fully realized) character is the child Rusty, who is misunderstood and only craves a little love from anyone who has time to give it. I couldn't help wondering if Udall doesn't resent growing up in a big family (he dedicated his book to his 8 brothers and sisters)for while he treats the religion with a sort of sympathetic objectivity, he drives the point home again and again that a family that size cannot meet the emotional needs of anyone. Love can only be so big...

Explosions, both literal and figurative, play prominent roles in the plots and I can almost make the connection (because there obviously is one) but if it's beyond the illustration of the volatility of man, I haven't quite worked it out yet.



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