Saturday, March 26, 2011


Bloodroot by Amy Greene is the author's debut novel.  I had been wanting to read it for some time, and finally got to it.  It was a quick read and at one point, I even checked to see if it was a Young Adult novel.  That seems foolish since the content of the story wouldn't really be appropriate for young readers, but the Ms. Greene's writing style seemed quite simple to me.  I also had a bit of trouble following the story, as it would seem to rather abruptly change perspectives, being told by different people and at times, I could not figure out who the person was telling the story.  She did eventually get around to letting the reader know, but I found it confusing.  However, after saying all of this, I found myself thinking about the story quite awhile after I finished it, which is an indication of a good book for me!  And actually, the story was very good.

From the back cover of the book:

Myra Lamb is a wild girl with mysterious, haint blue eyes who grows up on remote Bloodroot Mountain.  Her grandmother, Byrdie, protects her fiercely and passes down "the touch" that bewitches people and animals alike.  But when John Odom tries to tame Myra, it sparks a shocking disaster, ripping lives apart.  Bloodroot is the dark and riveting story of the legacies-of magic and madness, faith and secrets, passion and loss-that haunt one family across the generations.

That is what initially attracted me to the book.  And it sums it up well.

Chapter One is told alternately by Byrdie Lamb and Doug Cotter.  Byrdie is Myra's grandmother, who has raised her.  Doug is a neighbor on the mountain, who has loved Myra since they were little kids.  Byrdie and Doug are dealing with the fact that Myra has fallen in love with John Odom and both are afraid that he will take Myra away from Bloodroot Mountain.   Chapter Two is then narrated by Johnny Odom and Laura Odom Blevins, the twin children that were born to Myra and John Odom.  Chapter Three is told by Myra Odom, and  the Epilogue is told by John Odom.

For me, Bloodroot was primarily about mother and child relationships.  The story takes place in the mountain country of Tennessee.   Byrdie had lost all of her children, then raised her granddaughter, Myra.  Myra left with John and their relationship quickly became abusive and difficult, which resulted in Myra being lost to Byrdie.  After much abuse, Myra got away from John, then lost her children.  Her children ended up paying a high price for John and Myra's past.

I feel as if I am being very vague about the story, but I don't want to give anything away.  I was impressed with how Ms. Greene ended the book, and as I said, I kept thinking about the story after I finished it, even as I was reading my next book!  Do I recommend the book?  Yes, I highly recommend it.  I think that it would make a good choice for a woman's reading/book group! 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Three Junes

Three Junes by Julia Glass is incredible for a debut novel.  Actually, I would consider it incredible even if it weren't a debut novel! This was our March pick for one of my book groups, and a wise choice it was!  We had a great discussion about the book and the numerous nuances occurring through-out the story.  There is really alot going on in this book as you begin to think through it.  It may seem as if nothing is really going on (no huge plot) but the characters are so well-defined and interesting, that the book held my attention all the way through and I was rather sad to have it end.

As the title implies, the book is about three Junes covering ten years of the McLeod family. It is divided up by the three Junes.  The first June (1989) is about Paul McLeod, a Scotsman recently widowed, who is on a group tour of Greece.  This section of the book is where Paul reminisces about his marriage and his three sons.  The second June (1995), begins with Paul's death and the family gathering at their home in Scotland.  This section is primarily seen through Paul's eldest son, Fenno, a gay man who had long ago moved and settled in New York. The third and last section (1999), takes place in New York, where Fenno meets Fern, a woman who had met Fenno's father Paul in Greece in 1989.

Of course, the above is a very simplistic summary of the book.  Ms. Glass' prose is beautiful and is very easy to read, although some of it needs to be re-read because of the beauty and wisdom in it. 

"Mind what you love.  For that matter, mind how you are loved."
The book touches on so many different emotions and relationship issues, including fidelity, loss, love, gratitude, and grief.  It includes issues of AIDS, sperm donation, children, parents, lovers, and siblings.  Some things remained unknown/unresolved in the story (like whose lipstick did Paul leave to Fenno?), but those issues resulted in great book group discussion!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Congratulations to Darin Strauss

I posted on this blog on January 3 of this year about a memoir, Half A Life by Darin Strauss, that I had read.  I just thought that the book was outstanding.  Well, today I read that it has won the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for memoirs.  Excellent!  Good decision, NBCC!

If you haven't read Half A Life, I highly recommend it.  If you haven't seen my post about it, you can go here to see it:

Monday, March 7, 2011

Room-Awesome novel!

Upon the recommendation of a good friend (and a great reader...well, she is also a great friend!), I got Room by Emma Donoghue from the library.  Once I started it, I absolutely could not put it down!  A great read!  It was just fascinating!

Today I am five.  I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark, I'm changed to five, abracadabra.  Before that I was three, then two, then one, then zero. "Was I minus numbers?"
The book opens on Jack's fifth birthday.  Jack was born in Room and that is the only place he has ever been.  He lives there with his Ma, and once in awhile Old Nick visits, but Jack stays in Wardrobe when Old Nick visits Ma.

Ma has been held captive in Room for seven years.  She and Jack have spent every single moment of Jack's live together.  She has taught him to read and has taught him games to play and made his life as "normal" as she possibly could.  But as Jack turns five, Ma decides that he is old enough to help her with their escape.  What is unknown to her is how difficult it will be if the plan succeeds, and they enter Outside.

The whole novel is narrated by Jack, which I found to add to the profound impact that the novel had on me.  Room opens up so very many questions about survival, love, and perseverance.  I am hopeful that this will be one of my book group choices, because it will make for such wonderful discussion!

Excellent book!  Thanks, Lynn!