Sep. 17th, 2017

kenjari: (Govans)
LaRose
by Louise Erdrich

The plot of this book, which takes place in small-town North Dakota, is set in motion when Landreaux Iron accidentally kills his neighbors' 5 year old son in a tragic hunting accident. To atone for this act, he and his wife Emmeline decide to follow an old tribal tradition and give their own 5 year old son, LaRose, to their neighbors, the Raviches. LaRose is able to integrate himself into his new family, forging important bonds with his new mother Nola and new sister Maggie. After some time, LaRose is able to start having visits with his original family and this shared custody gradually heals the two grieving families. However, this fragile peace is jeopardized by the actions of a man seeking retribution upon Landreaux for events of their youth.
While not a cheerful read, LaRose was entirely engrossing and lovely. Erdrich delves into the dynamics of grief and guilt with great sensitivity and depth. Even when the plot takes on themes of vengeance and retribution, Erdrich eschews melodrama, instead opting to look deeply into the way events, complex relationships, and their consequences unfold. The reconciliation between the two families is instead built up gradually, through individual moments and actions, small gestures, and individual decisions. Through it all, she also weaves the tales of the Iron family's forbears and a strand of mysticism that adds extra resonance to the story.
Overall LaRose is a wonderful novel of redemption that does not take the easy, sentimental route. Instead, Erdrich treats her themes with great subtlety and complexity, preferring gradual development over sweeping gestures.
kenjari: (Eowyn)
March: Book One
by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell

This is the first of a graphic novel trilogy based on the Rep. John Lewis' life during the Civil Rights movement. Framed by Lewis' attendance at Obama's first inauguration in 2009, this volume covers Lewis' childhood through his college years as he became aware of Martin Luther King's efforts and the beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement. When Lewis attends college in Nashville, he becomes increasingly involved with the movement and joins the SNCC. He participates in the lunch counter sit-ins, staring down bigotry, getting attacked, and being arrested.
This is such compelling reading. It's written to be accessible to younger audiences, but it is not simplified at all, and it doesn't pull many punches. Lew is is frank about the violence and danger the protestors faced and endured. He is also clear about the rightness of their cause, and the personal conviction he felt. I particularly enjoyed the way his narrative filled in the spaces between the major events of the history we have all been taught. The way the lunch counter sit-ins started, developed, and grew is fascinating and instructive.

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