It has been awhile since I've talked about reading. I was afraid I was becoming a bit one dimensional; and, I thought you might need a break from my inept writings on the books I've been reading. I read an eye-opening article many weeks ago about the authenticity of book reviews.
I often find books by reading reviews. If I happen upon a book which looks interesting I usually snap a photo of the cover (I thought this a brilliant way to keep track of the books I want to read, but I am finding out it is becoming frowned upon.), head home and pull up reviews. If the book I'm looking to open is a book group selection I look to reviews to decide, am I going to purchase the hard copy, download it or check it out at the Library. There are just too many good books to waste time, cash and precious shelf space on something that is not, what I label, "a keeper".
Reading through the article regarding book reviews I discovered many of the reviews are written by publishers and fed to paid reviewers who then go online and publish a well thought-out paragraph or two prompting us, the readers, to purchase the book they have never read. I am waving my hand in the air. Yes, I am guilty of reading these convincing pieces only to ask at the end of the book, "Really?" I have also found negative reviews to books I have thoroughly enjoyed. I suppose we might want to edit the phrase, "You can't judge a book by it's cover" to
"You shouldn't judge a book by its review".
"You shouldn't judge a book by its review".
I believe I have said it before, there is a book for everyone, and a reader for every book. I may not necessarily enjoy what my neighbor is reading; I'm just excited to discuss books and reading. I do still look to online reviews, as I like to think those sharing their thoughts are wanting to share their love for a good read as well. And, you know I always want to know what you are reading and why you enjoy(ed) it.
I've read a lot books I would put into the "enjoyed" category... many I would post as "loved"... only a few books have I read in one sitting. The Dry Grass of August, the debut novel by Anna Jean Mayhew is the latest book which kept me turning the pages late into the night, and beckoned me immediately upon awaking. Yes, I picked it back up before grabbing my first cup of coffee and finished it before 8:30 a.m.
"In August of 1954, we took our first trip without Daddy, and Stell got to use the driver's license she'd had such a fit about. It was just a little card saying she was Estelle Annette Watts, that she was white, with hazel eyes and brown hair. But her having a license made the trip different from any others, because if she hadn't had it, we never would have been stuck in Sally's Motel Park in Claxton, Georgia, where we went to buy fruitcakes and had a wreck instead. And Mary would still be with us."
It is in the first paragraph we hear the voice of our narrator thirteen year old June "Jubie" Watts. We also learn we will be traveling through the south, without a man in 1954. There will be a car accident and a death.
Throughout the book we are exposed to the social tensions of an era, betrayals within a family, and the unbreakable bond between a young southern white girl and the black woman who cares for her. It is a story of love overshadowing hate, lies torn away by truths. A tale that has been told many times. It has been mentioned along with titles such as The Help, The Secret Lives of Bees and To Kill a Mockingbird. Yes, I found bits and pieces throughout the book taking me back to each of those stories. And yet, I found something in Jubie's story that resonated deep within my memories.
I was born at the end of 1954, the year the supreme court deemed segregation a violation of the Equal Protection clause of the fourteenth amendment. It was not until I was in high school, thirteen years later, my own school became integrated. I, too, didn't understand many of the injustices that were part of our everyday lives. I was often told, "One doesn't interfere with what goes on in another man's house. It is just how it is." So many of the same phrases I remember coming from those I thought of as role models. And I can still remember asking what the KKK was upon reading a sign posted out in the bayou near a covered bridge which read, "The KKK is still a live". I'm sure I was given a watered down explanation. That sign always scared me a little bit. It was through books I learned about the Ku Klux Klan and the terror they spread.
I've often thought of that sign and wondered if it is still there.
Yes, this story has been told many times. And, someone will tell it again. Like so many injustices which have occurred throughout time, it is important we continue to tell the stories. When we push them aside we risk stepping back instead of forward. We risk repeating history.
The Dry Grass of August, is a story told through the simple language of a thirteen year old. It is an easy read, but a story difficult to read. In the end, we find a redemption, of sorts. And if you think parts are unbelievable ask me... I bet I have a story to tell you.
Oh...I suppose I should add here, no one is knocking down my door to offer me a deal to write book reviews. I promise I've read each book I write about unless I tell you otherwise. You know, just in case you had any doubt....ha!ha!ha!
Easter is upon us.
May the sun shine down upon you,
and may you have a blessed and beautiful Easter.