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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Book Review - Stand the Storm - Breena Clarke

I'd like everyone to check out Breena Clarke's web-site and look into reading this book.

My book club The Page Turners read this book for summer reading. I enjoyed reading this book with my friends and club members. We did use Breena Clarke's Questions and web-site for the Reading Group Guide in addition to coming up with a zillion other thoughts that we shared over a four week, weekly chat.

Check out Jenn's Bookshelf at a later date for some member reviews and thoughts. I want to thank Jenn in co-operation with Valerie from Hachette Book Group for arranging copies of the book for our summer reading.

My Review:

I want to say that the story of Annie, Gabriel, Ellen, and Mary is a powerful epic story. I really thought the plot and theme of this book was outstanding. I also liked the diverse and complicated characters. I was totally immersed in the sewing, knitting, quilting, tailoring and needlepoint. There was quite a bit of that in the book. For me it was enthralling. This is a very important and rich story. Therefore I recommend the book for anyone.

I did struggle with the harshly depicted life of a slaves. I know it is a harsh and brutal reality, but it was hard for me to read. The sexual abuse, rape and physical abuse was hard for me to digest and wrap the brain around. More so than other books that I have read on the subject. It was peppered in throughout the story. It did shape and define the characters actions. It was warranted and yet it was harsh. Even though it was rough, I do find that it added a very brave voice to the history of our Country. I thank Breena Clark for that.

Slave trader, slave seller, slave catcher, master, free coloreds, the "n" word (which isn't coming out of my mouth or off my keyboard) and many of the terms and practices involved with the enslavement and traffic-ing of human beings is utterly horrific and were everyday terms in this story. And yet here we have a story with a mother, a son, grandchildren, a community, and a nation struggling in a eruptive time that serves to take us to a time not so long ago where we can reflect, remember and broaden our understanding.

At times I felt the writing was too academic for the story. While I understood the writing, sometimes it seemed wordy. There were also many moments of powerful prose. For me the prose and academic writing didn't mix well. I am not sure if that makes sense. I tended to enjoy the "prose type" parts more than some of the thickly worded sentences. The material for me was heavy enough. This didn't not occur to me throughout the whole book, just towards the latter part. There were a couple of character issues for me that distracted from what I wanted from the story. I think it might add to the story for others.

I was lucky enough to get a copy of the book to review, and I bought a copy of the audio. I read the first half and listened to the other half. I HIGHLY recommend the audio. It is read beautifully, and the rich texture of the voice drove the story home a bit more for me.

That is it. I'd love to hear your comments. If you have questions, I will try to answer them.


bermudaonion said...

I won this book and am really looking forward to reading it.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Sounds good - yet bad (if you know what I mean!) Sigh, so many books like that! After your review, however, I really want to read it!

Serena said...

I've heard many positive reviews of this book, but I have yet to get my hands on a copy.

Teddy Rose said...

I hadn't requested this book but received it anyway. I am looking forward to reading it.

Jenny Girl said...

Interesting book. I know why you liked the needle arts portions of the story. And the slavery history is unfortunately a part of our nation's history. It amazes me that our country is still so young compared to everyone else. Good review Toni!
P.S This is for you an award

Anna said...

I've been waiting for this review. I wasn't sure if this was something I'd read, but now I think it's worth a try. Sounds like a difficult, but important read.

Diary of an Eccentric

Luanne said...

Oh Toni - thanks for such a great review! I will hunt up an audio copy I think.

Unknown said...

I won this book and I am looking forward to reading it. Thank you for a great review. If you still want to talk about it a bit aftewr I read it that would be great!