Monday, January 23, 2017

Reviews | Homegoing, Lowriders in Space, Gertie's Leap to Greatness

These three books are all outside of my usual genres/reviewing norm so I decided to showcase them together in one post.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi


Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indeliably drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.

Effia and Esi are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

I took a leap out of my comfort zone reading Homegoing.

Homegoing is Yaa Gyasi's debut novel. It follows the lineage of two sisters from Ghana. Homegoing is basically a book of short stories with each story focusing on a different family member. The timeline of the book spans hundreds of years, but there is a familial thread connecting all of the stories.

Homegoing has received tremendous praise and has been nominated for several book awards. As for my personal taste, I can liken reading Homegoing to watching most Academy Award winning films - I can see what all of the fuss is about, but it's not really my thing.

6/10: Good Read



Lowriders in Space by Cathy Camper


Lowriders in Space by Cathy Camper

Lupe Impala, El Chavo Flapjack, and Elirio Malaria love working with cars. You name it, they can fix it. But the team's favorite cars of all are lowriders—cars that hip and hop, dip and drop, go low and slow, bajito y suavecito. The stars align when a contest for the best car around offers a prize of a trunkful of cash—just what the team needs to open their own shop! ¡Ay chihuahua! What will it take to transform a junker into the best car in the universe? Striking, unparalleled art from debut illustrator Raul the Third recalls ballpoint-pen-and-Sharpie desk-drawn doodles, while the story is sketched with Spanish, inked with science facts, and colored with true friendship. With a glossary at the back to provide definitions for Spanish and science terms, this delightful book will educate and entertain in equal measure.

I found Lowriders in Space in the Texas Bluebonnet Award section of my library. I recognized it from other awards lists and knew I had to scoop it up. This was such a fun graphic novel. The first thing that struck me about Lowriders in Space was the colors used in the graphics. I didn't realize until reading the artist's note at the end that the drawings were all done with red, black, and blue ball point pens. I'm going to have a hard time in the office tomorrow not spending time creating Raul the Third style doodles.


My 10 year old thought Lowriders in Space was weird and confusing. I, on the other hand, really enjoyed the humor and the creative depiction of the lowriding culture. I look forward to seeing what they do in the next installment.

7/10: Recommended Read



Gertie's Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley


Gertie's Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley

Gertie Reece Foy is 100% Not-From-Concentrate awesome. She has a daddy who works on an oil rig, a great-aunt who always finds the lowest prices at the Piggly Wiggly, and two loyal best friends. So when her absent mother decides to move away from their small town, Gertie sets out on her greatest mission yet: becoming the best fifth grader in the universe to show her mother exactly what she'll be leaving behind. There's just one problem: Seat-stealing new girl Mary Sue Spivey wants to be the best fifth grader, too. And there is simply not enough room at the top for the two of them.
Oh, Gertie. This book broke my heart into a million wee pieces. It's really a wonderful book, though.

Gertie wants to be the best fifth grader that ever lived. We begin the book with Gertie creating her "what I did on my summer vacation" story. By her fifth grade year she was well aware that these stories were a competition, and Gertie needed to be the best! Gertie didn't count on there being a new girl in class this year - a new girl from California who knows movie stars.

Gertie's Leap to Greatness follows Gertie's fifth grade year and her struggle to be the best.

This book is adorable and horrible all at the same time. Kids can be so cruel to one another, and growing up is such a struggle. By the time I learned why Gertie needed to be so great, I was just a mess of broken pieces.

This is the type of children's literature that stands the test of time. I saw elements of my own childhood in the pages. I saw some of the struggles my own children are going through in school with their teachers and their peers. If you are looking for an excellent book for your kids or you happen to be like me and you've never outgrown reading kid lit, there's a lot to experience in this one little book.

7/10: Recommended Read

Review copy of Gertie's Leap to Greatness provided by publisher

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4 comments:

  1. I've seen Lowriders in Space a couple of times this week. I might have to check that one out! Sometimes it can be fun to read out of our comfort zone.

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    1. I agree. I'm a pretty eclectic reader, but I used to be more so than I have been in the last few years. I'm trying to pick up more unexpected titles.

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  2. I've been eyeing Homegoing but feel like I'd think the same as you. Understandably worthy of awards but...meh.
    Gertie' Leap to Greatness sounds absolutely delightful.

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    Replies
    1. I've seen so much praise for Homegoing, but I just don't feel what others seem to be feeling.

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