Archive for : March, 2016

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Frog Music by Emma Donoghue – A Review

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While most authors wouldn’t dare to get down and dirty with the grimier places that history has forgotten, Emma Donoghue not only dives head-first into the mess that is 1876 San Francisco, but also creates something beautiful out of it. This story is set in the midst of one of the hottest summers on record and a horrific outbreak of smallpox, Blanche Beunon hears about the death of her friend Jenny Bonnet who has been shot by an unknown man.

For a burlesque dancer, the squalid underbelly of the city is not a stranger and never too far away. Blanche has to navigate the darker corners and alleyways of a world filled with crime and criminals, one of whom, it transpires, has murdered her friend and is now intent on stopping her from bringing him to justice.

Even from the outset we are plunged into Blanche’s world and forced to see how the other half live. But hers is not a world of the rich elite of modern-day San Francisco; hers is the world of those begging and stealing just to get through the day. Donoghue manages to create sympathetic characters that you feel strongly for. She makes decisions that, in any other setting, would be questionable and even downright wrong, but somehow in Frog Music there seems to be no other way to live than to commit crime and protect yourself with secrets.

The main character, Blanche, is at once a helpless victim, forever on the wrong side of the law but never doing wrong, and our hero, someone we root for the entire time. She is slick and charming in her own world, but soon gets out of her depth. You can feel her losing her way as she sinks deeper into a world of crime that she never even knew about before, and from which she may never return.

Emma Donoghue’s Frog Music is her first America-based historical novel and the author makes full advantage of her colorful if unusual setting, evoking the clawing heat and the oppressive eyes of a city grown suspicious by constant crime. Donoghue creates an incredible atmosphere within the book that simply draws the reader in further and further. The timescale of just three days make everything feel much more intense and creates a feeling of urgency that makes you just want to savor every last detail.

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I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson – A Review

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This story is told from two viewpoints – the earlier story is told from Noah’s perspective, while the later years are told from the view of Jude. The interesting thing is the two are twins who go from being the typical inseparable twins to distant and at odds. What can happen in the span of three years to so drastically change the relationship between the twins? This question is answered, and other details of their lives are shared in this remarkable work.

Nelson’s writing style strongly impacts the reader, and her depth of each character guarantees you will walk away from the book with strong feelings for the twins and their family. You can empathize as the twins come of age and the family deals with big events during a time the boys are already dealing with changes to their bodies and life in general. The metaphors that Nelson drops throughout her writing can be a bit to understand at first, but readers come to find the writing style is a draw once they grasp Nelson’s intent.

Honesty and family are two big themes throughout this work. These are important to society at large, and the way Nelson shows their importance in her writing is a great technique mixed into her masterful plot and emotional storyline, filled with twists and turns. The writing grabs the reader and ensures they feel strongly for one twin or the other. Some find Noah easier to relate to, while others see more of themselves in Jude. Either way, the twins sharing the story of their lives is intriguing and so strong you can feel the emotions with them as events unfold.

The fact that the twins narrate different points in their lives makes the story flit back and forth a bit. Noah is telling the story of what happens during the teens’ lives at the age of 13 and 14, while Jude’s story is told while the twins are 16. It shows events that occur in their lives and the repercussions they must deal with at a later date. For some people, the shifting timelines are hard to follow. However, for those who persevere, it becomes apparent that this story could not be told in any other way.

This story shares the impact a specific event can have on a family, at a time when each of the twins is making discoveries about themselves and their place in the world. The choice to hold back and not share everything with one another makes a huge impact on their bond and the way they interact with one another. This has big consequences a few years into the future.

The story is one that can show you how trying life can be, yet there is hope at the end. The beauty of this story is in the conclusion and the way hope and strong emotions are shared throughout the storyline. Readers who complete the book share a love and admiration of the book. It is well-recommended for both younger readers and adults.