Posts filed under ‘Marie's reviews’
This week we are lucky to have another thought-provoking review from Marie, our periodicals librarian who also works in the Children’s Department:
Impatient with Desire by Gabrielle Burton
Pub Date: March 2010
We’re all familiar with the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover.” I’ve got another quote to remember: “Don’t judge a book by its title”. Numerous times during the year, the library staff receives free advanced copies of books before the book officially goes on sale. This is an excellent means to promote new material by authors and book distributors. This historical novel kept getting pushed aside by this reader thinking it was one of those “steamy” Harlequin type romantic novel. That was a gigantic mistake.
Do impatience and desire stir up our thoughts in terms of historical fiction? In this reader’s case, the answer is NO! Impatient with Desire is truly a very tender love story of an overwhelming and treacherous journey that the Donner family and thirty two other people embarked on in search of a better life for their families in what is now California.
Imagine the USA back in 1846. This country was about seventy years old and the government of California was giving away large tracts of land to anyone who “desired” to settle there. The heroine of this novel is Tamsen Dozier Donner who actually grew up in Newburyport, MA. She was a woman filled with an adventurous and romantic spirit. Her father said she should have been born a boy! As a schoolteacher living in Springfield, Illinois, she meets up and marries her second husband, George Donner. He brought to the marriage 2 daughters and together they had 3 more girls. Both are great lovers of adventure and with their devotion to one another and their families they set off on the Oregon Trail. They packed up everything they owned to move twenty five hundred miles to a place they had never seen!
The epic journey started well joining with others along the way. Then things started going badly making wrong choices on trails to take, arguments amongst themselves and just plain bad luck. By the time they reached the Sierra Nevada Mountains winter had arrived in full force, and eighty one people were trapped in the mountains with limited amounts of food and supplies.
What does one do to survive? The author through careful study of journal entries and letters gives the reader an unpleasant taste of survival at all cost. Impatient with Desire is a tragedy filled with romance, tenderness and strength of personal character. What really happened in those four and half months of entrapment is a true test of the romantic spirit. It is a story of an American dream that turned into a real nightmare. Read this historical novel. I guarantee it will stay with you for a long time. -Marie
In lieu of a genre study this week we have something better – a new voice for the blog. Marie works in the Children’s room at the Library, and manages our periodical collection. The following is her review –
The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf
Pub Date: January 2009
A round of applause for Gudenkauf’s gripping and tense debut novel. At dawn, one quiet humid August morning in Willow Creek, Iowa, 2 seven year old girls from 2 separate families have been abducted in the middle of the night. The descriptive prologue immediately draws the reader into a very serious and tense situation. One of the missing young girls, Calli, is a selective mute. Antonia, Calli’s mother, speaks with a sense of relief the last four words of the prologue. “You have finally spoken.”
I picked this paperback up by accident and couldn’t lay it to rest. Calli, a fragile, dreamy child, hasn’t spoken a word for the past four years due to an incident that she witnessed in her home at the age of three. Petra Gregory, Calli’s best friend, also goes missing the same night. The reader soon discovers that Petra is more than a best friend. She is Calli’s voice whenever they’re together.
The author moves the story along at a fast pace with brief precise chapters dealing with the important characters in the story. There are only a few main characters and the reader is constantly questioning who abducted these two young girls. “Family Silence” or “Family Secrets” would have been other appropriate titles for this novel. Calli’s mother and Petra’s father have been silent and secretive about their family situations. This unspoken silence brings into question what happened to these two girls. Let the reader be assured that this story has a happy and redemptive ending.
Heather Gudenkauf is an educator who has spent the past sixteen years working with students of all ages in the Iowa school system. She is also an individual with a hearing impairment. So this story brings into light the problems faced by children with disabilities. It is beautifully written and touches all aspects of family life. It’s definitely a pageturner! -Marie
P.S. Have a wonderful, book-filled holiday weekend!