The Digital Bookclub: February

Had it not been for a quiet weekend away during February, I probably wouldn’t have made it through two books. At the rate March is going, I’ll be lucky to finish one.

Life just gets away sometimes, you know? You know.

But I did make it through two books and one of them was non-fiction. CAP, MEET FEATHER.

Songs of Willow Frost (Jamie Ford)

I really do like the old Asia theme. No idea where it comes from. I stumbled upon Jamie Ford when I was still working in the bookstore. He was a new novelist, with only the one title under his belt and nobody really cared much about that one. Not here anyway.

His first book was called The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and it was a hardcover book. Hardcover means expensive. We only had two copies of it in the store, which kept getting shoved to a corner where it couldn’t be seen behind the towers of the latest James Patterson novel (the guy brings out two books a month). One day a client asked me about it, having read about it online, and it turns this book had done fantastically well in the States but due (presumably) to it’s price, had failed to get off the ground in South Africa. Such a shame because it is a really wonderful book.

So when I spotted this latest book on the shelves, I was excited. The thing with fantastic novelists, is they can’t be brilliant every single time. I have said it before, about Khaled Hosseini, and I think the same applies here. It is the success of his first novel that is the downfall of the second. I really enjoyed this book and thought it was beautifully written, but it didn’t live up to the first book.

William Eng is twelve years old. He lives in Seattle, during the depression, in a children’s home run by nuns. He has only vague memories of his mother, who is dead. As one of only two Asian boys in the home, William doesn’t quite fit in but he has found a best friend in Charlotte, who is blind.

To make things easier, the nuns celebrate every boy’s birthday on the same day and on this birthday, the boys are taken to a local movie theater. The star of the movie is a young, Chinese woman called Willow Frost and as William looks into her face he knows that he is looking at his mother.

The story follows William’s desperate search to find his mother, taking us back to before his birth and allowing us a glimpse at his mother’s life and the circumstances that lead her to eventually giving up her beloved little boy. It is a beautiful, heart-wrenching story about a young, single, Asian mother in a time and a city when it was difficult to be any of those things.

 

S.A. Politics Unspun (Stephen Grootes)

I studied politics as one of my majors at varsity and have always been deeply passionate about the topic. But having had little to do with the subject since graduation I’m a bit rusty on the finer details of the soap opera that it is our balloted parties and, with the elections just around the corner, I though it time to re-educate myself.

This is a great read for anyone looking for an easy-to-understand overview of South Africa’s political history, systems and major players. It takes an (arguably) fair look at all the parties and their members, with a great little summary of everyone who matters (and even a few who don’t). I can honestly say I learnt a lot in reading this book, particularly abut the ministers and what they have achieved in their positions. Which is a good thing to know when you’re looking for people to blame about the state of our nation. He is equally complimentary and critical of MP’s and ministers of all parties, taking individuals and not political affiliations into account.

This book is going to sit on my bedside table in the run up to the elections as I consider my options, it’s the kind of book that anyone with a little bit of interest in what their vote actually means should read.

If you have a book review you’d like to share, you can do one or all of the following things:

1. Comment here with your review.

2. Comment here with a link to your review.

3. Email me and I’ll add it to this post! kirstenb.88@gmail.com

 

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