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Archive for the ‘ARC Review’ Category

tyrants daughterDisclosure: I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley.

I had mixed emotions about this book. It is ambitious, and engaging, and is a very fast read. I think I read it in about an hour and a half, while watching to the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. I am not sure that it succeeded in all of it’s ambitions, but I would generally recommend it.

It is a first person narrative from Laila, with very short chapters. I liked the narrator – she was convincing to me. The cast of this book is limited to a few people: Laila, her mother, her brother, the CIA agent, a few classmates, a few other immigrants from home. The country that Laila has fled is an unnamed country in the Middle East. We are obviously meant to think of Iran or Iraq, but the author never identifies the setting of Laila’s country of origin. The action takes place in a relatively short period of time after Laila’s arrival in the U.S.

There was so much going on in the background of this book: the various forms that privilege can take, how one person’s privilege is another person’s cage, misogyny, the impact of religious fundamentalism, growing up in a world where physical safety is just another commodity, available only sometimes and only ever to the wealthy.

Laila is an insightful narrator, but she is not precocious. She is an ethical person, but not a questioning person. Or at least she wasn’t until after her father is assassinated.

I would love to get the rest of Laila’s story. Those of you who read the book will know just what I mean.

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Cross-posted from Booklikes. Book 13 of 2014. I received a free ARC of this book from Netgalley. It is scheduled for publication on 1/28/14 by Delacorte Press.

and we stay

See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world
See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world
The breath from your own lips, the touch of fingertips
A sweet and tender kiss
The sound of a midnight train, wearing someone’s ring
Someone calling your name
Somebody so warm cradled in your arms
Didn’t you think you were worth anything
See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world
See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world [Sweet Old World by Lucinda Williams]

Oh, I loved this book so much. It is the story of Emily Beam, in the few months after her boyfriend, Paul, has done something unspeakable at her old high school, committing suicide in the library after she has broken up with him. Emily has been enrolled at a boarding school at Amherst.

Mount Holyoke

What doesn’t this book have? Well, it doesn’t have a love triangle, or bad boys with tattoos, or smexy sexy alphas who control their girlfriend’s every move, or any sort of paranormal creature (and, no, the “ghost” of Emily Dickenson doesn’t count, since she is really more of a presence than an actual spirit).

It is slow and introspective, a look into the resilience of youth following a devastating tragedy. It is about blossoming friendship and growing up and forgiving yourself. And it’s about words and the power of words to heal.

Jenny Hubbard can put together words so beautifully that it broke my heart sometimes. I am barely a fan of poetry, but Emily Beam is a poet, and scattered throughout the book is a series of poems that she wrote in those first weeks and months at school, and they are brilliantly evocative and spare and lovely.

I feel like words are inadequate for me to explain why I loved this book. I connected with it – I have a girl and I have been a girl, and I work with girls who have been through trauma, and so for me, Emily Beam is every girl who uses words to process her pain. I loved this book.

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