Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Mary Coin

Mary Coin: A NovelAuthor Marisa Silver wrote a historical novel about the photograph "The Migrant Woman".  Mary Coin (fictional name) was the migrant woman in this novel.  I had a hard time reading this book.  I should have made family trees of the two main characters, because I had difficulty keeping the names of their men, their children, and their grandchildren straight.  To add to my confusion, the chapters were narrated by three characters and in different years.

The book tells a story of two women who lived two very different lives.  Mary Coin, who was born in poverty and ended up working as a migrant woman, and Vera Dare, a photographer, who lived a rather opulent life.  Yet, rather strangely, in the end, the two women had much in common.

In 1936, Mary Coin was widowed and was a migrant worker in California with three children.  As she sat by the side of a road, with her children with their  broken down car, another car passed her, turned around and came back.  Vera Dare was documenting migrant workers at the time and was in that car.  Vera got out of the car, and asked Mary if she could photograph the family.  She posed Mary and her children, took the photos and left. It was a very brief encounter. And they never met again.

Part One of the book began with Walker Dodge in 2010. Walker was a historian, a professor of cultural history, who felt that he never really knew much about his family.  Sadly, his work had taken him away from his own family so much that he and his wife divorced and he was then a part-time father to his two children.

Then the chapters were about Mary, starting in Oklahoma in 1920 as a child, ending up in 1931 in California. Next the chapters were about Vera in California, first in 1920, then in 1932. Part One finished with Mary in California in 1935-1936.

Part Two began with Vera in 1965, then Walker in 2010, back to Mary in 1982 and 1935, and ending with Walker in 2011.

So if I had the before-mentioned family tree, along with a timeline, I could have skipped a lot of my confusion.

Taken as a whole, the premise of the book was a good story. Mary Coin was chosen for one of my book groups and everyone enjoyed the story, but all of us were confused as we tried to discuss the book, trying to figure out who went with who. Would I recommend the book? Only with a warning to the reader to take notes!  Is it staying with me on our move? No.

Sing, Unburied, Sing

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward is a book that I had been wanting to read since it came out.  I was wandering through the local library the other day and saw it there, so I finally got it to read!  It was an interesting story and I think the book would make an excellent book group choice.

Sing, Unburied, Sing is a generational story.  Each chapter is told by a different narrator, with the main character, JoJo, narrating seven chapters, his mother, Leonie, narrating five chapters, and a "ghost" character, Richie, narrating three of the chapters. It is the story of Leonie, JoJo, Kayla (JoJo's younger sister) and Missy (Leonie's friend) traveling through rural Mississippi to pick up JoJo's father, Michael, who was being released from prison.
Sing, Unburied, Sing

JoJo's mother was black and his father was white.  JoJo (who was thirteen years old), his mother, and his sister lived with Leonie's parents. His paternal grandparents (Michael's parents) would not have anything to do with the family because they were black. Leonie was not consistently there to parent, so JoJo and Kayla were being raised by Leonie's parents,  Pop and Mam.  Mam was  dying and Pop was grieving, as were the other characters in their own ways.

There is much in the story about love, hardship, grief and questions.  JoJo and Leonie are each are haunted by those who have died.  Leonie is haunted by her brother Given's death, and JoJo encounters the spirit of Richie, a thirteen year old, who had been in prison years ago (who Pap had known and told stories about to JoJo).

It's kind of a complicated, yet simple story, very rich with meaning.  It was a good book.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018


LOVE HER WILD by Atticus is a book of poetry that I was so lucky to have found at the used book store.  I have been wanting this book for a long time! I love Atticus' work and have a Pinterest board of his poetry. And that's how much I love what he has to say!

His poems are usually quite short and exactly to the point!

"The beautiful thing
about young love
is the truth
in our hearts that it will last forever."

Love Her Wild