Hoosier Hysteria – Meri Henriques Val

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The Details

Author: Meri Henriques Vahl

Genre/category: Biographies/memoirs, non-fiction

Where can I buy it? Here

Release date: 17th July 2018

Review

In this biography, Meri Henriques Vahl remembers her college days, in the early 1960’s, at Indiana University. She arrives fresh from New York, ready for a new adventure, excited for what is to come. Little does she know that she will be confronted by issues from day one. Upon registration, the assistants at the desk are horrified to tell her she will have to share a dorm room with – gasp! – a black woman.

And, quickly, Meri realises how racism is deeply imbedded at Indiana University, and it will prove problematic as she tries to navigate through it with her friends.

It’s an interesting book, full of wonderful characters – I had to remind myself that they were real people, they were so full of personality. I enjoyed seeing life from the perspective of a young adult in the 1960’s – the struggle to decide what to study, the perplexing dating problems, that sort of thing. But, while Meri is busy navigating her new life, John Kennedy is assassinated, and the tensions escalate quickly.

It’s a timely read, given political tensions we are dealing with currently. I found it interesting that there was a lot of opposition and taking sides, which is obviously quite prevalent for today.

I’m so glad I read it – and would recommend to anyone who enjoys a good memoir.

hoosierhysteria3stars

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Primrose Street – Marina L Reed

I am a book reviewer for NetGalley, which means I received this book for free in exchange for a review. Click here for more information.

The Details

Author: Marina L Reed

Genre/category: General fiction

Release date: 30th Oct 2018

Review

Life on Primrose Street is busy – joys and sorrows, surprises and secrets, betrayal and new love all happen under the watch of the maple trees that line the street. A network of friends, family members and neighbours are relative strangers to each other, mostly living their own lives and not thinking much about each other – until they start to let each other in.

There is a particularly heartbreaking story line that sees the catastrophic effects in a family where the parents care more about their reputation than their children. In fact, lack of communication is something that the Maple trees see again and again.

Speaking of the trees – they’re presented as almost sentient, not able to communicate to the people, but certainly with each other, and they become their own character, watching the residents from above. It’s an interesting juxtaposition, of the trees, intensely connected to one another through their roots, alongside the people below, with their fractured relationships.

It’s a really interesting look at the complexities of human nature and the way we relate to each other – and very beautifully written. The only issue I had was keeping track of all the characters, as there were a lot of them – but other than that, I really enjoyed it. I look forward to reading more from Reed in the future.

primrosestreet4stars

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The Innocent – Lynne Golding

I am a book reviewer for NetGalley, which means I received this book for free in exchange for a review. Click here for more information.

The Details

Author: Lynne Golding

Genre/category: General fiction, historical fiction

Release date: 30th Oct 2018

Review

I knew nothing about life in a small Canadian town in 1907. But now I do! The Innocent is fiction, but inspired by stories told to the author by her cousin. She has done a lot of research into the historical context, and it shows.

The story is told from the point of view of Jessie Stephens, the youngest child in her family. Her family will not enter the local Presbyterian church, even though everybody else in the town does. She overhears a conversation that implies it has something to do with her grandfather – and the story revolves around her, over time, attempting to get to the bottom of her grandfather’s secret.

I liked Jessie as a character – she felt real. In fact the whole thing, due to the extensive research by the author, felt deeply rooted in reality. I enjoyed living her life for a while, experiencing the changing of the seasons, and the small moments that stood out to her in her young childhood – starting school, loss and grief, relationships, and fears (both rational and irrational). I enjoyed reading about her family from her perspective – her difficult, strict and distant father, her adored older brother, her eccentric aunt.

The only downside to this book was that it dragged. I found the writing style beautiful and descriptive, but there were moments – particularly the background information about the town and how it came to be – where it dragged so much I started to glaze over a bit. I don’t think that’s necessarily a problem if you really love historical fiction, and I imagine some people would find those parts more interesting than I did.

An interesting book – I’d want to find out more about what happens to Jessie!

theinnocents
3stars

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