Tag Archives: Random House

Review: Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo
By George Saunders
Random House, 9780812995343, February 2017, 368pp.

The Short of It:

A unique and touching story about the loss of a child and what happens next.

The Rest of It:

Young Willie Lincoln dies at a very young age, leaving his father, President Lincoln and his mother Mary, to grieve over his loss.

But…

Willie’s spirit will not leave the cemetery in which he was interred, accompanied by others who have chosen to do the same. For one reason or another, they can’t seem to move out of this “bardo” into the next life yet they all vow to help young Willie because the thought of an innocent child spending eternity in such a grim place, is too much for these characters to bear.

Lincoln in the Bardo includes some very interesting, and sometimes even playful characters and almost reads like a play except that characters express the thoughts and feelings of other characters instead of themselves which takes a little getting used to. But after that, I found myself completely wrapped-up in the story of this young boy trying to find his way.

Things you should know:

  • You won’t learn much about President Lincoln from this novel.
  • Many of the works cited are fictional.
  • There are a lot of characters (160+)
  • Even though the afterlife is discussed, no one religion is emphasized.
  • You will be Googling for Civil War facts while reading, but I suggest you read first and Google later.
  • It helps to have a basic understanding of the Bardo and what it is.

Lincoln in the Bardo is beautifully written.  I highlighted many sentences and I don’t often do that. The subject matter is somewhat somber but it’s lightened-up by the playfulness of the characters. It’s tragic in that these characters can never correct their mistakes and as a result live forever in regret but it has stayed with me long after finishing it and the image of these spirits spending eternity in the cemetery is haunting. Check out this virtual reality experience to get a feel for what I am talking about:

Go to this page and scroll down to the bottom to view. Once there, click around to explore.

I know some readers are divided over the book but I loved it and my book club had plenty to discuss when we met. I plan to buy a copy as soon as the paperback comes out in February.

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

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Review: Perennials

Perennials

Perennials
By Mandy Berman
Random House, Hardcover, 9780399589317, June 6, 2017, 288pp.

The Short of It: 

You know that nostalgic feeling you get when looking at an old Polaroid photo? That’s how I felt while reading this book. Youth captured in a snapshot.

The Rest of It:

As kids, Rachel and Fiona spent many wonderful summers at Camp Marigold. Eight glorious weeks of swimming, riding horses and making new friends. Things at home could change, but once they returned to camp, everything fell back into place and all was good with the world. In Perennials, Rachel and Fiona return to camp as counselors and with them is Fiona’s younger sister, Helen who is about to experience camp as they once did many years ago.

Summer camp. Sigh. When I was a kid, I read a lot of books about summer camp and they really had me longing for that experience. It wasn’t until last summer that I actually attended camp (as a leader) and although I wasn’t there as a camper, it was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. In this novel, Berman beautifully captures all the angst and anxiety of pre-teens but she somehow manages to capture the doubts and worries of the young adult counselors as well.

This book is summer, but it’s also life and love and friendship and all the not-so-pleasant stuff that comes with it. There’s a little more “action” between the campers and counselors than I would have liked to see. I am not a prude but since I work with teens and have teens of my own, I was a little sensitive to some parts of the story but at the same time I am far from naive. That said, anyone who is sensitive to language or sexual content may want to think twice before handing the book over to your teen. It’s not marketed as YA but from the cover you might think so.

In the end, I thought it was pretty well done. The final pages were especially poignant and frankly had me all choked-up. Perennials is Berman’s first novel and I look forward to what she writes next.

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