Thursday, March 25, 2010

Book Review - The Bone People by Keri Hulme

A bewitching fusion of Maori ancient traditions and humanities timeless imperfections

I am emotionally exhausted after spending the last two weeks reading The Bone People. As hard as I tried, I was never able to sit for more than an hour with these destructive and severely marred characters. Hulme's portrayal of the complex and layered relationship between a perpetrator of abuse and his battered victim is so accurate that I can only assume that she has been through a similar trauma in her own life.

Our protagonist - or antihero, in my opinion- is a troglodyte drunkard who is forced out of her self-imposed exile by a visit from a neighbouring impish boy, who happens to be mute. Against all odds an endearing relationship is forged between these two misfits, as Kerewin finds herself protecting Simon from the harsh hand of his overwhelmed and iron-fisted father.

It wasn't just disturbing content that had me straining to get through this finely printed, 450-page novel, as some of the book was written in the Maori language, and as a result we are forced to use an index of translations found at the back of the book in order to comprehend the contrasting cultural references. I am just thankful that I discovered the index by accident before I started, or else it would have been even more confusing and frustrating to wade through. Not only was it easily missed, it was annoying to have to flip to the back of the book, and as such I feel it would have been much more efficient to have just footnoted the translations at the bottom of each page respectively.

Ultimately Hulme's novel is poetic, inspiring of vivid imagery, and definitely worthy of more than one read in order to grasp all that it has to offer. Through unique customs and folklore we learn about the extraordinary ways of New Zealand's indigenous people, while we relate to their commonality through situations that are shared by emotionally damaged and flawed people from anywhere around the world.

3.5/5 Snakes

Friday, March 19, 2010

Book Review - Push by Sapphire

**Spoiler Alert

The impeccable acting had the movie towering over the book

As I always try to do, I read the book Precious (or Push, as it was originally titled) before watching the movie. This is one of the rare occasions where I can say that I enjoyed the movie over the book, but only because of the outstanding performance by Mo'nique, and some of the director's effects.

That being said, Sapphire's ability to portray Precious' voice through the use of Ebonics, grammatical errors, and phonetically spelled words -which improved with her progressing literacy- was very affective. I also found the description of Precious' dissociative states that she would lapse into due to her severe circumstances to be very telling and accurate, as this is often a form of escapism victims of severe trauma encounter.

Despite these strong aspects of the story, I found myself at odds with the glowing praise that I had heard about Precious over the last year, and was overall disappointed, as I ultimately felt it was lacking closure. At the end of both the book and the movie I found myself wanting more, needing to know what happened next. Does Precious make it through her education? Does she get Mongo back? Does she go on to live a long life despite her illness? I realize her resilience in order to have come as far as she had with such an abusive and heinous upbringing -that is inspiring- but from what do I draw my conclusions on her eventual outcome?

It is clear that Sapphire is showing how knowledge is power, and if you work hard and push through your misfortunes you can have redemption, but was that really the case for Precious? I wouldn't expect a perfect ending, or even a tragic one, just not one so anti-climactic and stagnant. Nonetheless, whatever portion was shared of Precious' story is important and needed to be told, if for nothing else, to inspire other disenfranchised and struggling girls in similar circumstances to push through.

3/5 Snakes

Saturday, March 13, 2010

It's been a while

It's been almost a year since I made an entry to this blog. I suppose I could blame it on the fact that it has been a very eventful last 12 months; my wedding, a honeymoon in Ireland, a husband in the hospital for two weeks. Yeah, that's a lot.
And then there are the usual suspects; Christmas, New in general.

I can't accurately say that being busy is the only culprit for my inactivity here, though. If I think about it honestly, I fell into a self-imposed rut. I was having a great time posting reviews and sharing thoughts with some very artistic and intelligent people. I was going full force trying to read enough books to keep the daily book reviews coming, whilst reading through others' sites and attempting to become an active member in the blogging community. And then I burnt out.

I felt like I couldn't read a book just to enjoy it anymore. I was always thinking about the review I was going to write, and how many books I could squeeze in this week. That's way too much stress surrounding something that I consider to be my relaxation outlet.

I've decided to come back and give it another shot, however this time I'm not going to hold myself to such a high standard. I'm not a professional blogger, there is no need for me to have an entry every day. I'm going to post at my leisure; daily, weekly, monthly, whatever strikes me at the time.

I'll just have to be confident in the fact that those who find my posts interesting do not have the attention span of a fly (or maybe they do :-s ), and therefore won't forget about me if I'm not on their computer screen every day.

Glad to be back, all the same.