Tag Archives: Book Club

Review: The House Girl

The House Girl

The House Girl 
By Tara Conklin
William Morrow & Company, Paperback, 9780062207517, November 2013, 372pp.

The Short of It:

A promising premise that fell flat for me pretty early on.

The Rest of It:

From Goodreads:

The House Girl, the historical fiction debut by Tara Conklin, is an unforgettable story of love, history, and a search for justice, set in modern-day New York and 1852 Virginia.

Weaving together the story of an escaped slave in the pre Civil War South and a determined junior lawyer, The House Girl follows Lina Sparrow as she looks for an appropriate lead plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking compensation for families of slaves. In her research, she learns about Lu Anne Bell, a renowned prewar artist whose famous works might have actually been painted by her slave, Josephine.

This was a book club pick. As a whole, it was well-liked and we had a really good discussion but it just didn’t work for me.  I preferred Josephine’s story which took place in 1852 to Lina’s present day story. Lina’s voice didn’t ring true. It seemed a tad forced and too perfect. The story is told by Lina and Josephine through alternating chapters so half of the time I was interested and the other half, not so much.

I did enjoy how the story revolved around art and found that story thread to be very interesting but it wasn’t enough to make me love this one. I think as a debut novel, this book was pretty well-received so my feelings about it are most definitely in the minority.

Have you read it?

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: The Book of Aron

The Book of Aron

The Book of Aron
By Jim Shepard
Vintage, Paperback, 9781101872741, May 2016, 272pp.

The Short of It:

Based on true events, Shepard tells the story of a young boy and his family as they struggle to survive Germany’s occupation of the Warsaw Ghetto.

The Rest of It:

There are many books written about the Holocaust. Some are beautifully written and nearly all of them are pretty heavy in tone. This one is a little different. The story is told from a young boy’s point of view. A young boy who happens to be street smart and a bit of a wretch. Somehow, that makes the story he’s telling a little easier to digest.

Although not likable, Aron is a survivor and he comes in contact with many characters both young and old who directly impact him and his quality of life. Hunger, illness, lice outbreaks and the continued loss of personal property and loved ones, puts Aron on the street, and that is where he meets Dr. Janusz Korczak, a pediatrician , the true hero of this story.

As I said earlier, although fictionalized, the story is based on true events and when I turned that last page, I was eager to know more about Dr. Janusz Korczak (birthname Hersz Goldszmit). I think Shepard could have written the entire book about him.

All in all, The Book of Aron was a good book to discuss. The book club that I belong to had plenty to say about it. The pacing was a little slow in the beginning but it picked up about halfway through. I hesitate to say it but for a book with this subject matter, the tone felt lighter to me than most. It wasn’t particularly heavy until the end.

I’ve never read anything by Shepard before but now I am interested in reading his other book, Project X, about middle-school (another heavy topic),

Have you read The Book of Aron or Project X?

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.