books i read last month...

1. the year we left home by jean thompson
this is a story about the ups and downs of a family in iowa...roughly from the vietnam war to the war in iraq. i could totally relate to the mid-west/lutheran church references and how some kids leave and some kids stay behind. my only gripe is that each chapter is told from the point of view of a different character. so if i got really engrossed in a certain narrative voice - specifically torrie, the youngest daughter - i would have to wait four or five more chapters to hear from her again. i missed her in the meantime! which i guess means i was enjoying the book!

2. indian killer by sherman alexie
i have had the chance to see sherman alexie speak a few times and i not only really like his writing - but he is truly funny and brilliant in person. this book was super engaging and made me think about my relationship to native american culture...why did i take a native language in college? why did i go to pow wows when i was in junior high? was my motivation to be part of some mystical "club" or did i want to support a suppressed people? these thoughts came up for me because in this book everyone's motivation is challenged. but i should also mention that this is a book about a serial killer and is a serious thriller at the core. highly recommended!

3. after the war by alice adams
this story took place during the war as well...the second world war. i just discovered that this book is part of a series and it was published after the author's death. it deals mostly with a group of women in a small southern college town who kinda gossip and sleep around and get involved in random boring stuff waiting for the war to be over or for their husbands to care about them. i had to force myself to finish reading it. bleh.

4. purple hibiscus by chimamanda ngozi adichie
it only took me two days to read this...it's such a wonderful, yet sad story. the main character is a 15-year-old nigerian girl named kambili. she and her brother (jaja) and mother are terrorized by a father who physically abuses them in the name of god - a strict catholic god. although kambili suffers at the hand of her father, he is a character with many dimensions, which are played out in the story as the country is falling apart because of a military coup. i really enjoyed the passages dealing with city life vs. village life and catholic rituals vs. traditional ceremonies. kambili and her brother jaja are given the opportunity to live with their liberal loving aunt and thus have a whole new exciting world opened up for them. the novel was so descriptive and layered, that the ending felt a little rushed to me...but that's my only complaint.

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