Book Review: Where the Crawdads Sing

A Southern book about white trash in eastern North Carolina – the only excuse I have for not reading this before is that it came out in 2018.

The Book

36809135._sy475_Where the Crawdads Sing
Author: Delia Owens
2018
Amazon Link

This book better become a movie or I will scream at every romance movie that has ever come out. I will hate Hollywood forever.

And I have no doubt it’ll happen – it’s too cheap a movie to make with too intense a storyline and a great freaking title.

Non-Spoiler Review

Got to be one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. It’s beautifully written with amazing natural imagery, the best in-prose-fiction poem integration I’ve seen in my life, an intense and amazing set of romantic relationships, and a vivid main character. The story has two parallel plots going on, and they converge near the end of the book in a very fantastic way. Each of the major characters have their own voice, and I was able to discern them all.

Honestly, I have very little I can complain about with this book. It was beautiful, well constructed, thoughtful, empowering – my goodness, I couldn’t believe it. I could believe the author wasn’t actually from North Carolina when I read it, though, because of some misrepresentation of region and accent (found out after that she was born in Georgia, and I do believe you’d have to be Southern in some capacity to write this book). There were some issues with slang and lingo being modern instead of from the 50’s and 60’s, which is when the story takes place. But I can forgive these details easily because white trash lit is so hard to find, because the overall trajectory of the story is beyond amazing.

If you’re Southern white trash or have been at any point in your life, get off your freaking butt and read this book. If you’re looking for a book about a fantastic female character who kicks butt without being “a man with boobs,” this is a great book to look into. If you’re a naturalist or enjoy vivid imagery and chats about animals and plants, you can’t miss this one. If you enjoy romance that’s not terribly steamy (just a wee bit), this book is for you.

But, if you’re none of the above, you might not want to read this. My spouse, for instance, would never be able to “get” this book. My best friend probably would never “get” this book. But my God – my God – if you do get this book, it’s amazing. I’ve looked at several 1-star reviews since writing this one, and those people who “don’t” get it often look at minutia and call it a day. They often claim to have skipped most of it (which I don’t blame them for if they didn’t like it) due to what they considered “purple prose”. So yes, there are those who hate it. You may be one.

Perhaps being able to associate with poor Southern whites gives me the ability to love this book. Perhaps not. But for real, give this one a chance if you think it may even slightly be relevant to you.

5/5 Discoball Snowcones

5 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

Like I said in the non-spoiler review, this book had 2 converging plotlines. One takes place entirely in 1969, and the other zooms from 1952 until it catches up with the 1969 plot. It was a great decision to do so.

Why? The 1969 plotline reveals a murder case: the killing of quarterback and small-town-hero, Chase Andrews. As the sheriff and deputy investigate and find evidence implicating the main character, Kya, the other plot reveals information about who Kya is and gives both corroborating and confounding additions for the reader to consider. By the time of the trial, I was in desperate need of knowing who – if anyone – really killed Chase Andrews. Was it Kya, who resented Chase for attempted rape? Was it Tate, who resented Chase for being mean to Kya? Was it Jumpin’, Kya’s surrogate dad who would have also hated Chase for the same reason? Was it Chase’s mom or wife, who were both so ashamed that Chase had affiliated himself with white trash? Or did Chase just commit suicide?

The book does reveal all by the end, but I think even I won’t spoil that here – you’ll have to seek that out yourself. 😉

Next week:

I begin September with a batch of shorter books – books you may want to read yourself if you want to start off with something easy and fun!

Book Review: Outlander

Way back in 2018, back when I was young and fresh, I read The Time Traveler’s Wife. I was disappointed because Outlander had been checked out at my library by other people and the wait list was so long that I was convinced I’d never get it.

Well, it finally became available, at long last!

And then it turned into the first book I’ve absolutely refused to finish since Thoreau’s Walden in high school.

The Book

51prw27sxwl-_sy346_Outlander
Author: Diana Gabaldon
1991
Amazon Link

Before you wonder why I even started this novel, I want you to realize that I thought it was about a time traveling WWII nurse who went back to 18th century Scotland and re-invented and produced antibiotics. I was excited for a novel to include details about bioprocessing and medical knowledge.

lol

A Crappy Review

The book started alright. I thought it was a little weird that there was a sex scene with Frank, husband of Claire, but that wasn’t too bad. I knew there was a significant romance portion of this book.

But then she went back in time and got humped by Frank’s ancestor. There were lots of times when Claire was threatened, nearly killed, imprisoned, etc. because she was a single woman in a terrible situation, but the juxtaposed insistence that she was “strong and independent” and her absolute melting whenever anything she wanted crossed paths with a man just felt so wrong. It made me wonder what the point of the novel was.

Then Claire was forced to suddenly marry the main love interest, Jamie, and it just turned into a massive pile of smut. I kept going, thinking maybe it would be done soon, but then the love interest raped her while they were at a camp with other men. I was like “WAAAT” because I get furious at rape scenes. But I was like, “Well, perhaps this was a one-off thing, and she did start saying she liked it after he went too far. Let’s give it some… fuck, 1990’s slack? It’s just an awful book. Push through it.”

Then the next scene, Jamie punishes Claire for “making him look bad,” when what actually happened was she saved his life. He spanks and rapes her, definitely against her will. At this point I thought, “Maybe he wasn’t the main love interest, and in the next chapter she kills him.”

When the next chapter had Claire melt into thinking it was her fault and she had to do what Jamie and the other men said, I was like, “No. No, if you don’t slice him to pieces and run back to the standing stones, this book is stupid and I refuse to read further.”

And so I quit. I have no idea who this book is written for, and I can’t make any suggestions. I think the messages contained within the book are terrible for anyone, male or female, and it was definitely not about producing sulfa drugs like I’d wanted it to be.

1/5 Discoball Snowcones, But only because 0 isn’t an option

1 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS AHOY

I didn’t finish the book, so I can’t really give spoilers. However, I looked up the rest of the plot before I finally decided that I could never finish it.

After the aforementioned rape and beating scene, I looked through the plot and found out there was definitely a male-male rape scene. I was like, “What the eff, this book is straight up erotica and smut the whole way through.”

How didn’t I know this beforehand? How did I get led so astray?

Next week:

First, in about an hour another book review will be popping up on my site: Where the Crawdads Sing. Stay tuned for that – it’s fantastic!

Book Review: Purple Hibiscus

This month, I’m reading some modern classics with focuses on non-American, non-British cultures. This book popped up when I went on a search for African fiction. The author is Nigerian and American (or at least has places to live in both countries), so I’m excited to see what this book has in store.

The Book

PurpleHibiscusPurple Hibiscus
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
2003
Amazon Link

Like the other books this month, this one isn’t in my usual speculative genres. However, what interests me about this book especially is the memory of a book I read a long time ago set in a similar time period in Nigerian history. The backdrop of the unstable postcolonial Nigeria is intriguing, and I can’t wait to see how this plays out.

As a note, the book is supposed to be YA, but it is of considerable enough length.

Non-Spoiler Review

Wow.

This book was beautifully written. It was quiet, and the story didn’t really have a plot so much as this slowly revealed situation and character, but it was done in such a manner that I read this in 2 sittings (rare for me). Though this was definitely YA and touched on common YA themes like abuse (yeah, don’t read if parental abuse bothers you) and coming of age, Adichie does it in such a truthful, detailed manner that the feeling of the characters just pervades your senses.

The characters are brilliant. The main character – Kambili – is richly created, and her silence speaks volumes. Papa, who was a terrible father and abusive, was built from a very deep background and was so complex that you had to feel sorry for him, too. Aunty Ifeoma’s strength and Father Amadi’s encouragement are beautifully incorporated.

I don’t even know if I can describe the setting adequately, but the cultural mishmash of Western, Nigerian, and even Eastern (there was a vase with women wearing Kimonos on it – I was so astounded at this detail!) cultures blended in the most impressive way. The book wasn’t racist, either, but you could feel this oozing racial bias. The black characters even had this awful, infernal feeling of inferiority due to some of the lingering colonial oppression and ideas which were so effectively yet quietly stated in the book.

100% recommend to anyone looking to expand their international pallete.

5/5 Discoball Snowcones

5 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

In this book, Kambili and her brother Jaja suffer through some horrible things at the hands of their father, but they believe God wants their suffering in order that they might improve. The material wealth of the family is also presented as a reason God has blessed them, that they are moving on the right path. It’s a dastardly method of gaslighting that I thought Adichie portrayed in a breathtakingly real fashion.

This contrasts with the relative freedom of Aunty Ifeoma’s house, where there is no finger breaking or standing in bathtubs while boiling water is poured on your feet. Kambili and her brother grow to enjoy this freedom, and their desire for it leads to bravery which their large, overbearing father punishes them too far for.

AND THEN THE MOM POISONS HIM OMG.

The whole time, the mom was like “oh, he pays for us, he’s great,” but then she finally grows a spine when Papa nearly kills Kambili for owning a painting of her “heathen” grandfather. It was a magnificent twist and a great way to end an otherwise rather reserved book.

Next week:

Are there a lot of months with a 5th Monday this year? I feel like there are.

Unlike back in June, I can guarantee I won’t be reviewing the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie. So don’t expect it.

Book Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

This month, I’m reading some modern classics with focuses on non-American, non-British cultures. I’ve thought about reading Dragon Tattoo for a while, but its rather tense and pretty sexy/violent/rapey premises have put me off. That’s why I’m only getting around to it now.

The Book

51l2b3fbhymlThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Author: Stieg Larsson
2008
Amazon Link

I usually like thrillers and mysteries, but this one has seemed pretty sordid. I usually use this as a bit more intro, but I’m going to go ahead and say here that yes, this book is sordid. There is a lot in here that those with prudish sensibilities or disdain for senseless violence wouldn’t like. Overall I suppose the book is ok, but dude. Like thirty million trigger warnings need to be on this.

Non-Spoiler Review

I was surprised, in a good way, by this book. It still wasn’t and will never be a book I like, but it far exceeded expectations.

Usually, books with extensive and graphic scenes aren’t my favorite. And, to be honest, I think this book could have done with a lot less graphic violence and sex being on-screen; if you look at my review of The Alienist, you’ll see a book that talked about a lot of similar subject matter but didn’t have quite the same level of on-screen sex or violence. I found Dragon Tattoo’s unabashed violence, always against women, to be somewhat tasteless.

That being said, I was very pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t completely useless, and it didn’t feel like something written by a voyeuristic creep (like violence against women usually feels). I thought Larsson actually did a clever job critiquing the flaws of Swedish culture, especially how they hide behind liberalism and societal issues to give excuses to those who commit violence. I thought it was really intriguing how he wove Swedish Nazism in (and yes, I looked it up after – Swedish Nazism is a thing).

Overall, was it a great book? No. The mystery was solved with what I found to be pretty stupid clues. Blumqvist and Salander were fairly stereotypical characters, as was the villain. That being said, it was far better than I thought it would be, and I wouldn’t trash anyone for saying they liked it.

1/5 Discoball Snowcones

1 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

The overarching plotline of finding a murderer in a case 40 years cold was interesting. Salander and Blumqvist, the investigators, did work together well, and there was always palpable tension building.

That being said… zooming further in on old photographs shouldn’t be the way to solve a crime. Suddenly realizing that you put a wiretap on the badguy months ago shouldn’t be the way to catch a crook. The clues were too easily gathered, and it didn’t quite feel believable.

Lastly, the fact that Martin Vanger was this crazy serial rapist and killer who was highly active for 40 years and never got caught?! That was just… nuts. Even immigrants should have families, and someone should have started noticing that pretty women working for the Vanger corporation were going missing.

These plot holes were serious issues, but I also don’t think they were the point. I think the point was to critique Swedish capitalism, Nazism, and lack of serious progress towards women’s liberation and respect of women’s rights.

Next week:

Next week I’m going to be reading Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Feel free to stop by as I ride my global train of books to Nigeria!

Book Review: The Kite Runner

This month, I’m reading some modern classics with focuses on non-American, non-British cultures. This first one, even though it doesn’t focus on American culture, does have some interesting intersections with my own history that probably drew me to it.

At one point, I filled out the Amazon’s 100 Books to Read Before You Die. Well, in effort to check a few more off that list, I found The Kite Runner and read it.

The Book

518-tcto9clThe Kite Runner
Author: Khaled Hosseini
2004
Amazon Link

This book’s genre isn’t my usual fare. I tend to focus on purely speculative stuff, and I’m not a huge fan of very character driven things. At the same time, I’ve tried in the past to read diverse books by diverse authors, and this one seems to be a modern classic that would tick that box.  This tale of two boys from Afghanistan seems to at least be an informative, interesting book, and I hope it’ll be intriguing.

Non-Spoiler Review

And the book was interesting, when considered as a whole. The middle part of the book, though, was a pretty long slog of boring, but I understood why most of it was necessary by the end. Amir’s quest for forgiveness after witnessing a horrible event in Kabul did have emotional resonance, and ironies throughout the book presented themselves.

I enjoyed the rich cultural backdrops and premises in the book. Unlike Trail of Lightning, which I had very high hopes for, Kite Runner did an excellent job pulling a westerner into the story. It very clearly explained what needed to be explained, and it let itself build. Those things that were unfamiliar didn’t stay unfamiliar long, and I appreciated that.

The twists were very good, and the themes of fate, destiny, and belief tied into those twists. Amir’s personal, internal journey mirrored the one he had externally, and I thought that was pretty cool.

Overall, though, I’d still put this as a “meh” book. It wasn’t bad, but neither was it really something I’d plan on reading again (or really looked forward to reading in the first place). It’s just not my genre for one thing, and was pretty slow for such a large portion.

3/5 Discoball Snowcones

3 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

Probably the most bothersome thing about this to me was how the main character so easily chalked everything up to fate. He never told anyone about what he’d witness happen to Hasan, and… well, that secret harmed him. A lot. He didn’t forgive himself for what he’d seen as a kid until after he’d been beaten up by the same bully that had raped Hasan.

To me, that didn’t quite make sense. It was right on the tip of being totally believable, and some of the social constructs of the Afghans seemed to enforce the possibility.

Other than that, I must say the plot twist where Hasan turned out to be Amir’s half brother through an illegitimate liaison was rather well done. When that part was being revealed, I was tense and just waiting for them to say the words.

At the same time, most of the book was a little on the slow side. It was good at the beginning and through the last third, but that middle bit was… a bit harder.

Still, not a bad book to have on a list of all-time need to reads.

Next week:

I’ll be reading Stieg Larsson’s Swedish hit, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Believe it or not, I finished the book, so you’ll have a good time of listening to my analysis!

Reading List – August 2020

International writers have tended to flow swiftly past my radar. With books by British and American writers so prevalent, it’s easy to get lost in the cultures I already know the most about.

But with new translations, internationally flavored American writers, and global authors who (through colonization, I guess) have mastered English literature, that needs to change. Welcome to an international month of reading!

The Kite Rider – Khaled Hosseini

518-tcto9clThis is one of those books which do fit the modern ideas of popular. About a culture which isn’t commonly written about in Anglospheres, The Kite Rider is on my radar purely as extremely dependent on the Afghan culture and political situations. Written not too long after 9/11, I can’t imagine how tense this is going to be. I also hope it helps me learn more about the country which my own nation invaded. The history of Afghanistan is rich and far deeper than “Osama launched an attack on America.” The people – especially women – there have suffered much at the hands of the Taliban. I hope this book weaves history into it well.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson

51l2b3fbhymlPart of why I haven’t read this before was the fact that it was, in original Swedish, called Men Who Hate Women. To me, a modern millennial who thinks the current incarnation of the feminist movement has a lot of good in it, that seems dangerously… against my sensibilities. I’ve openly said before that I don’t like books with senseless levels of sex or violence, and I get the distinct feeling that’s what this book is full of. I don’t actually promise to finish this book, but since I do enjoy a nice mystery every once in a while, I’m going to give this a whirl.

Purple Hibiscus – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

PurpleHibiscusThere’s a new trend of African literature – especially in English – that promises to kick off exciting stories and bring fresh perspectives. I’ve heard of this book before and am interested to read something part of this new movement, even if I know relatively little about the set-up.

This book also reminds me of a book I read a long time ago – middle school, I believe. I don’t remember the title, but it was about political strife in Nigeria and I enjoyed the exciting story. There’s plenty of historical material from Africa to work with.

The Leftovers: Something from YOU?

Do you have a published book and a method of purchasing it that isn’t sketch as hell?  I need indie books to read, and this year’s slots are nearly filled!  Let me know if you have something you’d like me to peruse!

See my old reviews here

Book Review: The Sound and the Fury

This is my 2020 “Southern Month,” and I would be remiss if I didn’t review anything from one of the South’s greatest writers. William Faulkner is renowned for his dark, Southern stream of consciousness, and I’m willing to brave that combo right here, right now.

The Book

51uoptbnrglThe Sound and the Fury
Author: William Faulkner
1928
Amazon Link

I read A Rose for Emily in high school and just simply loved it. Faulkner’s Southern Gothic short story has been a major inspiration for me as a writer, and I strive to have such a deep sense of culture, history, and character in any of my works. Because of this, I decided to try something of Faulkner’s that was somewhat more difficult.

Fair warning, though: This book contained the n-word. A lot. Like a LOT a lot. It made me uncomfortable because I’m a damn millennial, but I will say that the whites who used it the most weren’t supposed to be well-liked.

Review ***Contains Spoilers***

I was rather confused by this book and have no idea if there was an actual plot. That’s part of why I can’t do a non-spoilers review: I can’t figure out what parts I shouldn’t talk about. I can guarantee I won’t read it again, but please stick around for the rest of the review because I think this will be more complex than “I didn’t like it.”

Even though I couldn’t really put together a clear plot beyond “everything falls to crap for these people,” there were a few painfully Southern themes here. One was honor; by attempting to uphold the extremely strict Southern honor, many of the main characters hurt themselves. Caroline, the mother in the book, feels a dishonorable lady for marrying below her station and having a child with a severe learning disability, which leads her to hypochondria and depression. Quentin and Jason feel dishonored by their sister Caddy’s promiscuity, leading Quentin to suicide and Jason to extreme hardness toward Caddy’s daughter, also named Quentin. The Compsons repeatedly try to abuse the people of color in the book in order to feel greater than they really are, and it’s clear that part of their downfall is in their cruelty.

The presence of Southern honor was especially important for me as I imagined the book as allegorical for the Antebellum South, the Confederacy, and the Reconstruction South. The Antebellum – when all the kids were young – was relatively peaceful but filled with tension about to snap. The Confederacy – when everyone was dealing with Caddy’s fling and unintended pregnancy – was hard, filled with death, and brought about ruin. The Reconstruction – the part wherein Jason dealt with young Quentin’s thievery and the people of color become more prominent in the story – was filled with anger, strife, and loss of faith. As an allegory for the South, I thought the story was great.

Still, the stream of consciousness was hard, and section 2 was nearly impossible to sift through.

1/5 Discoball Snowcones

1 Discoball Snowcones

Next week:

Stay tuned for a special surprise in a 5-Monday month! 🙂

Book Review: The Underground Railroad

This is my Southern Month here on the blog, and that means historical fiction abounds! This book comes highly recommended by a ton of people, and I think it seems to have some complex elements similar to Homer’s Odyssey or Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

The Book

61xxtnxlc7l._sx342_The Underground Railroad
Author: Colson Whitehead
2016
Amazon Link

I had a couple books lined up to read for my “Southern Month,” and I realized both of them focused on white people. I know, as do all of you, that the South is far more complex than just the white perspective can give.

I’ve seen around the interwebs that The Underground Railroad contains magical realism and fantasy speculative elements, which even further puts it in the wheelhouse I tend to go for. I’m excited to read this and hoping it’s not too rapey for my tastes (white men weren’t very nice to black women back in the day, and the main character is female).

Non-Spoiler Review

I thought this book was extremely heady. The metaphors in the book are bold, obvious, and deep, and without that special kind of literary interpretation I think it would be too confusing and random to understand. Even so, a plot is present, and I think most Americans – especially Southerners – would be able to appreciate the metaphors.

I was first convinced of the metaphors, however, when I saw something in the book that was anachronistic. I thought, “What the heck that’s not possible in the 19th century.” I realized, after reading a bit further, that much of the out-of-time feeling and the otherworldliness plays into the author’s artistic representation of black history. So, before you start reading, make allowances for supposed “historical inaccuracies.”

The sense of setting is very important in this book, and I think Whitehead did a brilliant job painting the pictures of each State and station Cora stopped at. He used color, scent, and material imagery to great effect.

However, I wasn’t so sure about Cora as a character. She felt kind of blank slate, that kind of blank slate where the author wants you to take up her mantle and put yourself into her shoes. I think it works most of the time, but sometimes it feels too much like you’re pinned to a railroad track and forced to watch something without the ability to act. Perhaps that’s part of the intent – to make you feel trapped, imprisoned, like a slave – but I think it may have done more to distance me from Cora than to feel for her.

4/5 Discoball Snowcones (but would do 4.5 if that were an option)

4 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

After I read the book, I looked up the metaphors to make sure I’d interpreted it correctly, and I think I was close to right. The NY Times said that each state represented a different possible future for people of color in America, but when I read it, I saw each state as representative of a different horror already inflicted upon them, and most of them since the end of American slavery.

In South Carolina, Cora was confronted with doctors who wanted to sterilize her and the other people of color, especially those who were mentally ill or otherwise indisposed. They also did experiments with syphilis and how it spread. These were experiments carried out in real life, and that freaking sucks. The South Carolina chapter made me stay on the lookout for a real-life tragedy represented in the rest of the states Cora traveled through.

In North Carolina, the black people were killed so they wouldn’t be in the way. Their culture was appropriated using blackface and through the white community stealing their songs. I thought this was representative of many movements in the 1920’s, especially the horrors perpetrated by the Ku Klux Klan – wherein they brutally murdered a lot of black people just to get rid of them – and the perception that a white person in blackface was a better acting choice than a person of the represented race. I thought it also had hints of holocaust about it, and Cora’s experiences did remind me of Anne Frank’s Diary.

I never really understood Tennessee, but my best guess was that it was about gang violence, white flight, and unenforced segregation. I thought this because there was this ever-looming cloud of fire, blood, and violence that it seemed the white people just ignored because it “wasn’t affecting them.” I think this link is my weakest, but I’m happy to entertain other theories.

To me, Indiana represented things like the Tulsa Race Massacre and the Birmingham Church Bombing. It was really freaking intense.

Anyway, the ending was weird and left off on either a REAL downer or a bit of hope. If hopeful, Cora can keep running in effort to find true freedom. If a downer, she died in Indiana while fighting the slave catcher and even in death she’s still running from slavery to the white man.

So yeah, it’s a real… roller coaster (pun, lol).

Next week:

We’re going to be reading Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, widely regarded as an extremely artful piece of Southern writing. Join me then!

Book Review: Gone With The Wind

Enjoy my first review from what I’m deeming my “Southern Month.” As a good Southerner, I should have read Gone With the Wind way before now, but I hadn’t. So here’s to my efforts to rectify this travesty.

The Book

p5094_v_v8_aiGone With The Wind
Author: Margaret Mitchell
1936
Amazon Link

Oh, uh, the Amazon link above won’t give you a cover like the one you see to the right… it’ll give you something I don’t quite feel comfortable being the featured picture on the reader. You get the movie’s picture instead.

Something I will be accounting for in this review is the controversial portrayal of slavery. Sometimes I read a book and, even though it’s old, will complain about the author’s obviously flawed sensibilities. I’ll try to keep the time period in mind, but I won’t hold back punches if they need to be made!

Non-Spoiler Review

Ok, first off: WOW. I see why this book was one of the top-selling books of all time. Holy crap is it well constructed. Though it’s enormous (418,000 words, approximately 1,000 pages), it went amazingly fast. The sentences were masterfully gorgeous (though she didn’t use the Oxford comma, which nearly killed me), and her characters were as rich as chocolate cake.

As someone who didn’t know what to expect going in, I had no idea that Scarlett was such a scamp. She was horrible, but she was strong, determined, and smart. Scarlett was a great female character to read because she never really gives up her femininity, but she works and succeeds in a man’s world. It shows both a wonderful side to her, but also the horrifyingly evil side. I’ve never read a book with a character built like her before. For this reason, I’d say Gone with the Wind is worth reading as long as you take it with a big ol’ grain of salt.

Because WOW. Holy crap is this book racist. It’s a damn shame it’s so racist, because the book as a whole is fantastically built. It’s racist in both casual and overt manners. Even though I believe Gone with the Wind is worth reading, I also recognize that it might not be worth it for everyone, and I don’t believe it should be required reading for, say, high schoolers. If you do want to read the book, be careful, because the sheer, stupid amounts of racist comments are numerous and spread throughout. Read it for the fantastically built plot and character of Scarlett O’Hara, but criticize it in all your heart for its terrible, inaccurate depictions of slavery and life in the segregated South.

5/5 Discoball Snowcones – because I loved it despite the egregious errors

5 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

I think this book could be considered a tragedy. Scarlett works hard to get through awful events during and after the war, so you kind of rooted for her even though she hated everyone including her children. I enjoyed how Mitchell wove in careful ideas about how women’s lives were made harder by their being blamed for their own rapes/assaults, and how that blame carried over into larger events like Klan lynchings. Perhaps I’m reading this into the story due to my millennial age status, but I thought it was very clear.

The foils between Scarlett and Rhett vs. Melanie and Ashley were so well done. Scarlett and Rhett were intelligent and heartless, while the other two were all heart with no intelligence. Despite Scarlett’s hardness and Melanie’s apparent weakness, by the end of the book it’s clear that Melanie was truly the stronger one all along. In addition to the cleverly built Scarlett, Melanie was such a fantastic foil to go along with that salacious hussy of a main character.

The ending was also perfectly vague. Will Scarlett get Rhett back? Will she use his money to keep being successful? Will she ever like either of her still-living children or Melanie’s “brat”?

I believe she will. She’s not failed at anything else she’s set her mind to, so why assume she won’t succeed when the book ended?

Next week:

Stick around for a story with more Southern flavor, this time from a non-white perspective! I’m excited to present my review of Oprah favorite, The Underground Railroad.

Reading List – June 2020

Everyone knows that I’m a southerner deep down (and on the surface). This month, as summer flares up, I’m reading a collection of Southern works to get that hot blood pumping.

Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell

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Last year, I counted up some of the books on Amazon’s 100 books to read before you die. This book was on there, and I was like, “AAAGH, HOW CAN I CALL MYSELF SOUTHERN I HAVEN’T READ IT.” So I dedicated some time to get this book read. I need to imbibe the controversial portrayals and understand why this book (and movie!) are so damn important.

Warning: The current Amazon cover is pretty terrible, so any pictures you see aren’t the ones you’ll get if you search it on Ye Olde but Infinite Book Site. Just wanted to warn you.

The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead

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I know that Gone With the Wind has some really questionable portrayals of slavery in it. I also know that the other book on this list is about white people, and I think it such a travesty that Southern or American often conjures images of whites in people’s heads. With that in mind, I selected a book written by and focusing on a person of color. It contains elements of magical realism and is extremely well-recommended by a horde of people out there. I’m hoping this book, from a different perspective than that in Gone With the Wind, will add elements of flavor and excitement to this month.

The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner

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I’ve only read Faulkner’s short story A Rose for Emily before and have never ventured into his more substantial works. A Rose happens to be one of the most influential works on my writing, and I have long found it an absolute travesty that I’ve never tried to read more of Faulkner’s work. So here’s to rectifying that mistake and to learning more about an author I’ve wanted to delve into several times before.

The Leftovers: A Bonus Review!?

This is a 5-Monday month, so stay tuned for an end-of-the-month mystery post!

See my old reviews here