A couple more book reviews for some of my recent reads.
Tallgrass - Sandra Dallas
My agent introduced me to this gem of a novel (Sandra Dallas is also one of her clients) and I'll be forever grateful. It's lyrical, honest, and memorable. I fell in love with the characters, and look forward to reading more of Sandra's work.
Set in Colorado in the middle of World War II, Tallgrass explores the implications of a national tragedy that occurred while all eyes were directed overseas. When a Japanese internment camp is constructed outside of her small town, Rennie Stroud doesn't know what to think. But the murder of a young girl turns her world upside down, and suddenly racial tensions run dangerously high. This coming-of-age story has something for everyone.
The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd
This book has been on my to-read list for a very long time and I finally had the mixed pleasure of picking it up. Though I loved the prose and was riveted by the story, there were some elements that left me scratching my head...
Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, a young woman who lives with her abusive father after her mother is killed. When her surrogate mom (a black housekeeper named Rosaleen) insults a group of white men in their racially divided town, Lily grabs Rosaleen and skips town. The two women find themselves in the care of three beekeeping sisters, black women who readily take the fugitives in and give them a home like none they've ever experienced.
Though I liked this story and was riveted by the lovely prose, a few things prevented me from fully immersing myself in the book. First of all, I found Lily's struggle with her past to be almost annoyingly volatile. She pendulum-swung from acceptance to denial and forgiveness to vengeance within the span of a paragraph. And though I realize these sorts of emotions are rather normal in tragic circumstances, after an entire chapter of hot and cold, back and forth, I was just plain sick of reading about it. Also, the whole "divine female power" thing was... well... odd. Themes of "You have to find a mother inside of yourself," and "I am enough," permeated the book. Essentially, find the god in yourself and you'll never need for anything again. Mix that in with some strange Mary, Mother of God pagan-ish rituals and you get the bizarre spirituality of Bees. A good read, don't get me wrong, just... weird at times. If you're not into an entire scene dedicated to watching a group of women rub down a wooden statue with honey, you might want to skip Bees.