I was honored to get to review this book as Sophie Kinsella is indirectly the only reason I fell in love with the song, Calling You by Kat Deluna, as she is the name behind the best-selling shopaholic series which resulted in a major motion picture staring Isla Fischer.
Yet, this book did not make me feel as invigorated as the song.
It follows a married couple who find out that their life expectancy is quite a stretch more than they originally thought when they promised “till death do us part.” Right away, you find yourself rooting for the main character, Sylvie. She’s the typical mother of two girls looking to spice things up in her life and marriage by coming up with this idea that her and her husband Dan should surprise each other with things, ideas, or creative endeavors to keep things “lively” since they have about 68 more years of healthy, happy married life.
Yet, although I finished the entire novel, I found myself skimming through entire chapters because they seemed almost superflous in nature to the overall story. Maybe I read this book all wrong but after just finishing a 60 chapter not yet published novel in an entire day, I can say that what was abundant in that book was missing in this one:
There was a lack of tension or an overall obstacle for the main character or characters to overcome.
True. This is a married couple we are talking about so the climax will not be as romantic as two arch-enemies that fall in love with one another BUT I guess I still felt something was missing.
Ultimately, that was the most surprising of all. That this book left me feeling like I just read one of those books I read in grade school ONLY BECAUSE I was obligated and not at all because I wanted to.
This book was my modern day post-academic life The Crucible by Arthur Miller.
We are all familiar with the hashtag on social media #BlackLivesMatter. Yet I didn’t come face to face with it until I read Jodi Picoult’s newest masterpiece, Small Great Things.
Following the main characters through vignette like first-person accounts of the story we meet Ruth Jefferson, the woman this story is centered around. Ruth Jefferson is a 20 year nurse at West Haven Mercy Hospital and is working when the Bauer’s come in because Brit Bauer is in labor is ready to deliver her baby. Ruth Jefferson is a neonatal nurse and a mother herself. Her husband died while serving in Afghanistan.
Instantly, you relate to Ruth and connect with her.
So it equally pisses you off when a wonderful woman like Ruth who was just doing her job is suddenly under investigation for murder, and not just any murder.
The murder of Davis Bauer, newborn son of Brit and Turk Bauer, known white supremacists.
Picoult weaves a story that shows literary merit but relevance in today’s racism-driven society, one that shares the struggle each person goes through when living based on skin color, or judged solely by it.
It’s brilliant. And I recommend you read it NOW. Get to your local bookstore and buy a copy for you and a friend or family member. It may be Picoult’s 24th book and 9th best-seller but it showcases Picoult’s true talent of writing literature that isn’t limited by time but instead exceeds beyond her years in wisdom, words, and grace.
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Within America, even the America we know today, comes the finest pixie dust blowing between the New York City buildings and inside houses during Florida summers while the air conditioner cools down teenagers on summer breaks who sit staring at their smartphones waiting for school to start again.
This same pixie dust gives birth to the American dream most of us have let go of like a hard exhale after a runner’s morning jog. Yet, to country outsiders who are oppressed in their home countries by governments that aren’t democracies, they are exhilarated by the hope of a better life and a better job in the greatest country this world still can’t figure out: land of the free and home of the brave.
This is the theme and underlying heartbeat to Behold The Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue, a debut author who herself has not only studied the craft of writing a best-selling novel but has herself lived to tell the tale.
It beautifully crafts the story of Cameroon native Jende Jonga who has immigrated to Harlem and finally landed the greatest opportunity he could ever dream of in his career- as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Encompassing themes of racism, illegal immigration, marriage, wealth, and spirituality without missing a step or a word misplaced. All in all, no trap door in the American dream is missed but only if you are up to the challenge of reading between the lines. This book is nothing less than a must read!
Imbolo Mbue is a native of Limbe, Cameroon. She holds a B.S. from Rutgers University and an M.A. from Columbia University. A resident of the United States for over a decade, she lives in New York City. BEHOLD THE DREAMERS is her first novel. And like any real extremely talented artist, she is not on social media.