Tag Archives: Religion

Review: Go Tell It On The Mountain

Go Tell It On The Mountain

Go Tell It On The Mountain
By James Baldwin
Vintage, 9780345806543, 2013, 272pp.

The Short of It:

A beautifully written, semi-autobiographical peek into the life of James Baldwin.

The Rest of It:

In one of the greatest American classics, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy’s discovery of the terms of his identity. Baldwin’s rendering of his protagonist’s spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves. ~ Indiebound

James Baldwin had been coming up a lot in my book club’s  various social media feeds and we had not really read him before, so when it came time to select a book, Go Tell It On The Mountain was chosen. From the short blurb above, you’d think that the story follows this young boy through his self-discovery process and it does, but there are other stories told along the way. Stories about his relationship with his step-father, how religion impacted him growing up, how the misfortune of others affected his family down the line. These stories are loosely woven together but not for one big epiphany at the end. I feel that the end is left for the reader to interpret as we all had different takes on where the character would go from there.

This story encouraged some thoughtful discussion so it worked well as a book club pick. I also enjoyed the writing. It had a flow to it that appealed to me as I was reading it and since it’s semi-autobiographical, I learned about Baldwin’s experience with the Pentecostal Church and how he struggled with his sexual identity.  There’s a lot to consider here.

Have you read it?

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

Review: Judas

Judas

Judas
By Amos Oz
Mariner Books, 9781328745491, November 2017, 320pp.

The Short of It:

Really made me think about religion in general. Was Judas a hero? In this book, Oz poses the question.

The Rest of It:

This was a book club pick. Going into it, I had few expectations because I really didn’t know much about it. I have to say, this was probably a good thing.

Jerusalem, 1959. Shmuel Ash, a biblical scholar, is adrift in his young life when he finds work as a caregiver for a brilliant but cantankerous old man named Gershom Wald. There is, however, a third, mysterious presence in his new home. Atalia Abravanel, the daughter of a deceased Zionist leader, a beautiful woman in her forties, entrances young Shmuel even as she keeps him at a distance. Piece by piece, the old Jerusalem stone house, haunted by tragic history and now home to the three misfits and their intricate relationship, reveals its secrets. ~ Indiebound

I found this book to be very good for discussion but not as enjoyable to read as I had hoped. The romantic element between two of the characters seemed a tad forced and not terribly realistic. I liked parts of the story. A young student, listening to stories and learning from an elder was appealing to me but Atalia was cold as ice. I never warmed to her.

The political elements were not excessive but provided enough background to give me a feel for the conflict of that region. As a discussion book, it was excellent. We had plenty to talk about. The possibility of Judas being a hero was something we had to wrap our brains around. Throughout history he has been recognized as a traitor. That brought up the question, what is a traitor and is being one always bad?

Interesting, huh? Well, that’s all I have. I will say that reading other books while reading this one was not possible so I’m glad this one is behind me but if your club needs a good discussion book, give this one a try.

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