There was no sophomore slump for author Yaa Gyasi, who lit the literary world ablaze with her searing debut novel, Homegoing (2016). That work of historical fiction was deeply personal and her exceptional contemporary follow-up Transcendent Kingdom (2020) draws upon her experiences growing up with Ghanaian parents in in northern Alabama. This powerful and emotionally raw novel centers on Giffy, a fifth-year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the connections between depression and addiction. Her brother was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after a knee injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal, deeply religious mother is bedridden. Dad left long ago. Giffy hopes science will find the why behind the suffering. But she still hungers for her childhood faith and struggles to find a balance between religion and science, hope and despair, living and inertia. It’s a personal journey with a conclusion that will leave you with hope, if not a clear answer.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an exceptional novel filled with mischief, fun, and excitement. Huckleberry Finn is a young teenage boy who just ran away from his civilized, structured life in search of something adventurous and new. After leaving on a raft, he meets a slave, Jim, who slipped away from his home. Huck and Jim set out on a rafting journey down the river to make a new life and find Jim’s family. Along the way, Huck is conflicted between turning Jim, the runaway slave, in, or letting him reach freedom. As they go along, he discovers his true self and makes his decision about Jim. Filled with fun stunts, mishaps, and laughter, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an amazing classic you’re sure to love.
I loved this book. Celie, Shug, Nettie, and Sofia were such strong women, facing a hard life and rising above it. Celie in particular has cemented herself in my mind as one of the great female protagonists in all of literature. I love how she didn't let her circumstances squash her spirit. I learned so much about a wide variety of things in this book. I learned a lot about Africa in the 30s leading up to WWII and the desecration of the tribal land by the English. I learned about the treatment of African American women by African American men and about their resilience and bravery. I loved the ending. Perfect.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is about a futuristic society that revolves around conditioned people. People are made by machines that condition them emotionally and physically for a certain job. Since people are conditioned to perform certain tasks they are happy and content. This book follows Bernard who actively questions the system and is unhappy. Throughout the book, it brings up the question of whether it is better to have an orderly and perfect society or for people to have emotions and free will. Aldous Huxley does a wonderful job of building a world where individuality is erased. The book was an interesting read and would give it a 3 out of 5 stars.
Orphaned and alone, Odie and his brother, Albert are sent to Lincoln Indian Training School where they spend the next four years of their lives. However, the superintendent is cruel and abusive, and after committing a grave crime, Odie is forced to run away. Together with his brother, Mose his friend, and Emmy, an orphaned girl, Odie and his newfound family take a canoe down the Minnesota River with plans to go to Saint Louis and settle down with their family. During their odyssey, the friends change in different ways as each of them grapples with their heart's truest desires.
This book is an allusion to a different popular story, and I loved the different references and allusions. The main characters are all children, but each of them brought me so much insight into the world and what it means to "find what's in your heart". The novel is also full of great surprises that kept me wanting to read even more! It's mostly an adventure novel, but there is some romance and elements of fantasy and magic, so there's a bit of everything for everyone. The ending was also beautiful, and although it was a bit sad, it was fitting.
This book was not necessarily easy to read but it was so well done:it juxtaposes the two time lines and the main characters with aplomb and great sustained suspense. 1888 vs 1988 racism and the differences and the shameful similarities. Fascinating characters, great plotting and page turning suspense. Thought provoking and a really good read. Really glad I read this.
The Great Gatsby is likely the most commonly read book by students between middle and high school, an assigned reading that teaches students what some aspects of life were like in the 1920s and the over indulgent society that preceded the Great Depression. However, it is also a very simple book about an image obsessed man whose life in a summer is documented by a man who barely dares to call himself a friend. For all the hype surrounding The Great Gatsby, especially with a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, it is honestly a pretty underwhelming read. Never was I completely enraptured by the story or awestruck by any new information given by the author. It is a descent book with some interesting underlying meaning but overall I would say it is mediocre at best, certainly not a literary masterpiece to be held in prestige.
The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde, is a short play about characters who are indeed NOT earnest. Algernon, a bachelor living in London, has an imaginary friend called Bunbury whose false existence he uses to get himself out of unpleasant social gatherings. Similarly, Jack—who lives in the country with his ward, an orphan named Cecily—has a made up brother named Ernest, whose constant state of “illness” allows him to visit the city when he pleases. From these false identities arises a huge misunderstanding, when Algernon decides to visit Jack’s country home posing as Ernest, the imaginary invalid brother whom Jack had planned to kill off that very day in order to end his pretending once and for all. The two friends must sort out the misunderstanding with their respective fiancées, and end up making an ironic discovery in the process.
This play is highly amusing, with its opinionated characters and witty commentary. It has a satisfying denouement; from start to finish the plot is engaging, and it doesn’t drag on. I would recommend The Importance of Being Earnest to anyone who likes a clever and entertaining comedy, or just a good laugh!