Book Reviews January 2018

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I offer three(ish) book reviews this January. All are fiction  – two are book club picks and the other is one that grabbed me due to its subject matter.

While many people veer toward non-fiction books, I tend to indulge in fiction. I spend so much time thinking and analyzing during the days that when it comes to relaxing, I need a bit of escapism. I don’t have a preferred genre, gravitating towards a range of categories including crime stories, mysteries, science fiction and best sellers. These days, I’m enjoying historical fiction more because history is fascinating and helps to give us an appreciation for how we got to where we are today.

The break over the holidays left me with some good downtime and so I was able to get through two novels.

  1. The Power by Naomi Alderman. Our last pick for book club, this dystopian novel is about teenage girls who discover that they hold a new power. The book focuses on the abuse of power, no matter who wields it. It also sheds light on the imbalance of male-female interactions and the battle of the sexes. A very original take on gender politics, it takes into question whether the fundamental differences between men and women are due to nature or nurture. Kind of kooky and highly entertaining, I absolutely loved the concept, which feels oh so relevant in these times. Can’t wait to dissect this one at book club!
  2. Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais. Having been born in South Africa and moved to Canada in the 1970s, when I was seven, this book called my name. Set in Apartheid-era South Africa, this is the story of a ten-year-old white girl living with her parents in 1970s Johannesburg and a Xhosa woman in a rural village in the Bantu homeland. Both their lives have been built upon the division of race, and a chance meeting occurs as a result of the Soweto Uprising, in which a protest by black students ignites racial conflict. Told through alternating perspectives, the narratives capture the emotions and tensions at the heart of Apartheid-era South Africa. Although I have long been away from South Africa, the country and its people will forever remain in my heart. Marais’ novel was an emotional read.
  3. Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward. The last book on my list is on the New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of 2017 and one I’ve yet to read. Set on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, it is reviewed as “a ‘road novel’, a slender epic of three generations and the ghosts that haunt them, and a portrait of what ordinary folk in dire circumstances cleave to as well as what they — and perhaps we all — are trying to outrun.” It’s our most recent book club pick and I’m looking forward to reading this one during January’s grey and rainy days.

What have you been reading this winter? Any book reviews to share?