Adventures in Reading

Fiction: Days of Awe by Achy Obejas, 2001

Revolutions happen, I’m convinced, because intuition tells us we’re meant for a greater world. If this one were good enough, we’d settle, happy as hens, and never rise up. But we know better: We feel the urge, ardent and fallible as it may be, for a kind of continual transcendence” (italics from the original text).

Alejandro San Jose was born the day Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba and her family, like many others, left the country. And in Achy Obejas’ Days of Awe we experience Alejandro’s struggle to comprehend her family, her past, her culture, and herself as a cubana. The story covers a somewhat vague period of time in Alejandro’s adult life as she travels back and forth from Cuba and in and out of relationships.

The second book for my Lambda Challenge and, well really, just wow. Days of Awe is beautifully written and Obejas Some of my favorite passages were Obejas’ explanations of the Spanish language such as American’s use of the verb love versus the Cuban use of the verbs querer, amar, and gustar. Days of Awe explores a gamut of complexities from imperialism to Cuba’s revolution, Judaism and Catholocism, as well as thematic issues of secrecy. Obejas’s latest book Ruins is due out March of 2009.

Conclusion: Keeper.

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Fiction: The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti

Hannah Tinti’s Good Thief is an adventure tale following the life of the one-handed and orphaned Ren. His life begins in a Catholic orphanage in New England until he’s reclaimed by his “brother” Benjamin Nab. Benjamin is a crook, a forger, and a grave robber; and much of the book explores Ren’s descent from a relatively mild-mannered and good orphan to the life of a little criminal. In case you didn’t already catch the influence from the title, The Good Thief has a complexity of moral and religious issues based upon underlying Catholic doctrine.

I’ve been rewriting this review for more than a week now because it’s an okay book, a good story, and a pleasant experience. However, I wasn’t thrilled with it. After completing The Good Thief, I saw a write up of it in Entertainment Weekly, I believe, but even there I don’t recall much of an opinion from them either. Reading it so close to the heels of Mercedes Lackey’s Foundation I found some parallels. It’s a text that runs smoothly and is easily read. There are allegorical qualities to the book that perhaps a more knowledgeable Catholic may perceive. Overall though it was not a book I was particularly excited about.

I was somewhat surprised to discover at the unboxing that The Good Thief is listed as adult fiction. Though the book has the briefest dabble in sexual innuendo and certainly explores violence, it really isn’t questionable material. Tinti’s piece is compared to the classical works of Robert Louis Stevenson, which was originally adult fiction but thanks to the many incarnations of the children’s adaptation and Disney, it’s very much a children’s classic.

Conclusion: Giving away at Bookmooch.