Rainer Maria Rilke

"Live a while in these books, learn from them what seems to you worth learning, but above all love them. This love will be repaid you a thousand and a thousand times, and however your life may turn,-it will, I am certain of it, run through the fabric of your growth as one of the most important threads among all the threads of your experiences, disappointments, and joys."--Rainer Maia Rilke

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Not As Good as the Reviews Would Have You Believe

All Different Kinds of Free by Jessica McCann
(Adult Narrative Fiction)
All Different Kinds of Free
Warning:  This review contains spoilers for plot twists and the ending.  Read at risk!)

I really wanted to love this book.  It had everything in it that destined it to be a favorite of mine--historical significance, a gripping storyline and a strong female character.  And, I tried loving.  Really, I did.  I read the other reviews and kept hoping to fall in love with it the way that others apparently had.

But it just never happened.  The historical significance was intriguing-a little known court case of Prigg v. Pennsylvania, whereby an evil slavetrader goes into a free state and captures a free black woman and her children, then returns with them further south.  The potential was so ripe--I could only imagine how a young mother with three children would feel to go through with such an ordeal.

In the end, though, that's exactly what I had to do--imagine it.  The author never made clear to me the obvious horror and hatred and fear this woman must have felt to see her children sold at a slave auction, to know she would never see her sons again.  Most of her time in jail isn't even discussed.  "Months later" just doesn't do the job for me here.  There were much more that was left unsaid that really needed to be said.  I never really understood the whole 'trick' she played with her new slave husband so she wouldn't get pregnant.  I never really understood why her lawyers gave up so easily.  I didn't understand why Jim, an acquaintance would rish his life to save her.  I didn't understand much of what occurred on the slave planation. 

The real problem for me was the character identification.  The story jumps from one point of view to another and I never really felt invested enough in any of them to identify with their story.  The ending, also, was a big let down.  An alligator?  Too unbelievable, unrealistic and a real let down after all the time I spent with Margaret.  Prigg deserved less and Margaret deserved more.  That's all I can to salvage the surprise ending.

Again, though, the other reviews are glowing so......it's worth a risk.

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