Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett; 2016; $27.99; 322 pages; Harper, New York, NY; 978-0-06-2491794; purchased from Multnomah County Library, Title Wave Used Bookstore; 8/13/17-8/18/17

Why did I read this?  Because it is the September selection of the Corner Reading Society.

An affair leads to two blended families on opposite coasts of the United States.  There is no animosity between the six kids, they just hate their parents, particularly the ones who had the affair.  There are several time jumps in the book from childhood to adulthood that show how the relationships have changed over the years.  The story of the family becomes a novel and changes many of the familial relationships. That part of the story remains me of what happened with Pat Conroy and his family after Pat wrote The Great  Santini.

Grade B

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman; 2014; $25.00; 337 pages; Atria Books, New York, NY; 978-1-4767-3801-7; purchased from Multnomah County Library Title Wave Used Bookstore, 3/3/17-3/6/17

Why did I read this?  The book club that I belong decided to read this as one of its selection for this year.

Ove is a man that knows what is right and lets everyone know when they are wrong.  He has lost his wife and in that loss he also lost his way.  A very diverse group of people and animals come into his life and help him find his way back.  I did not like the book when I started but at the end I cried.

Grade A

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead; 2016; $26.95; 306 pages; Doubleday, New York, NY; 978-0-385-54236-4; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Hillsdale; 1/22/17-2/2/17

Why did I read this?  A co-worker recommended it (although she doesn’t remember doing so) and the Corner Reading Society decided to read it during the coming year.

Cora and Caesar decide to escape the brutality of the Georgia plantation on which they are slaves.  Caesar has found a contact that will put them on the underground railroad.  Even as they escape and make new lives for themselves they live in constant fear of slave hunters and other whites, who would do them harm in a myriad of ways.  Each chapter is from the point of view of the characters, encompassing some we don’t hear about or from until their chapter arrives.  It is a complex story that incorporates some fantistical elements such as how the train runs.  I think it is a story that would take several readings to really understand the story.

Grade B, I had difficulty following the story at a couple of points due to the structure of the novel.

What It Is Like To Go To War by Karl Malantes

What It Is Like To Go To War by  Karl Marlantes; 2011; $25.00; 256 pages; Atlantic Monthly Press; New York, NY; 978-0-8021-1992-6; purchased from Multnomah County Library’s Title Wave Used Bookstore; 9/9/16-9/17/16

Why did I ride this?   I first read this in December of last year and was so moved by it that I nominated it for the book group I am part of.  So I reread it with a slightly different eye so that I could lead the discussion.

I read Karls’ first book, Matterhorn, back in 2010 and so when a veteran and good writer writes something with a title like this I decided to read this.  This is a look at how we as a society can better prepare people to be warriors and then support them better when they return from warfare.  He looks at things in a physical, metaphysical, spiritual, psychological and practical sense.  This is a book that should be read by everyone.  It can be a difficult read as it has some frank discussions about what the author has experienced in combat.

Grade-A

 

My First two bookmark book

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus; A Devout Muslim’s Journey to Christ by Nabeel  Quershi; 2014; $8.99; 296 pages; Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; 978-0-310-54502-9;checked out from Multnomah County Library, Central; 1/26/16-1/31/16

Nabeel becomes friends with a young man who builds a friendship with him and they become friendly enough to challenge each others beliefs.  Nabeel challenges Davids’ belief in Christianity, as he attempts to educate David in the ways of Islam.  Nabeel finds himself questioning some of the things he believes.  He applies a critical, reason based investigation to the tenets of Islam.  As he does he finds himself moving away from his long held beliefs.  He presents his logical, rational arguments as he moves through his investigation.  He also presents his emotional journey as his moves through his investigation.  This is a clear and concise critique of Islam by someone who was deeply invested in it.

Grade-A

Did I learn anything?  I learned so much about Islam and even some things about Christianity.  I have ordered a copy of this from Amazon so that I can re-read it and mark it up. I will read it again before March when our book group will be discussing it.

What is with the title of the review?  There were so many footnotes and words that I didn’t know that I had one bookmark where I was in the book and one in the footnotes and glossary section of the book.