The Lie Tree Review

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Summary: On an island off the south coast of Victorian England, fourteen-year-old Faith investigates the mysterious death of her father, who was involved in a scandal, and discovers a tree that feeds upon lies and gives those who eat its fruit visions of truth.

My Review: This book tries to do too many things at once. Set in the Victorian era, this is a story about lies, family, and the role of women. Faith wants to more than marry well, which is all a woman in that time period can do. She resents that she isn’t allowed to study natural science and evolution like her father and has become slightly bitter over it. While I was able to empathize with Faith, she was a hard character to like. She isn’t very nice to anyone save her brother Howard, and not all the time. Instead of befriending the local boy, she antagonizes him throughout the entire novel and shows him little mercy or kindness.

The family has moved from London due to a scandal which Faith about later in the book. Her father is killed while they are in their new home and Faith makes it her mission to find out who killed him. She uses the Lie Tree, a discovery of her father’s, to aid her. The lie tree has the book diving into the magical realism genre, one I am not a fan of. Basically, if you feed the tree a lie and make the lie come true, the tree will grow and provide a fruit. If you eat the fruit, you are given strange and very vague visions of the near future. I admit, the book totally lost me with this plot point.

The other themes of this book: the role of women and family are good. As much as Faith dislikes how her mother acts after her father dies, her mother is doing the only thing available to her to ensure her children have some sort of future. Faith doesn’t understand much of this, but begins to at the end of the novel. Faith herself is a girl clearly born in the wrong time period. She has educated herself as best she could and wants to do more with her life than get married and have children.

Faith adores her father, as both a man and a scientist. She constantly hopes to get his approval and when she does, it is one of her happier moments in the story. She is put in charge of watching over her younger brother and keeping him occupied. Understanding that he is a scared little boy, Faith protects him as best she could and if often seen talking or playing with him. She worships her father, is mostly disgusted by her mother, but she truly does love her brother.

If the tree wasn’t involved as well as other plot points, I would have given this a much higher rating. Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of the magical realism genre. If that doesn’t bother you, then give this book a try.

Rating: 2.5/5

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The Sun is Also a Star Review

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Summary: Natasha, whose family is hours away from being deported, and Daniel, a first generation Korean American who strives to live up to his parents’ expectations, unexpectedly fall in love and must determine which path they will choose in order to be together.

My Review: I read this book in one day. I could not put it down. Natasha is desperate to stay in New York. She does not remember much of her life in her home of Jamaica. Her family is not rich, but she was happy. She had friends. She had a place to call home. In conjunction with her separation is an underlying anger at her father, who put her family in this situation in the first place. If he had not been caught, they would still be able to stay in New York. She is angry with him from turning their lives upside down. She is also angry about how he feels about her and her mother. Her mother is not as big of a presence in the book, but she is the stable parent of the two. She works multiple jobs to keep them in their apartment and fed. In her journey to save herself, and her family, she meets Daniel.

Daniel’s family moved to America to give their children a better life. Now that his older brother has not lived up to them, it is up to Daniel to go to college, become a doctor, and marry a good Korean girl. He doesn’t want any of these things. Daniel is a dreamer and a poet. He isn’t even sure he wants to go to college, but he can’t find the courage to tell his parents that. His older brother, who he used to be close to, has drifted away from him and frankly, is a jerk.

Daniel and Natasha meet by pure happenstance and he is instantly smitten. While Daniel is the dreamer, Natasha is the skeptic. Life is not all hearts and butterflies in her opinion and she doubts that love even exists. Daniel makes it his goal to have her fall in love with him by the end of the day. As Natasha knows she only has one day left, she takes the bet. What happens next is a wonderful love story told from Natasha and Daniel’s point of view.

This sounds like a typical romance, but it is anything but. In addition to hearing from Natasha and Daniel, other characters get their own chapters to share their own stories. Sometimes the chapter is about a specific word or meaning. These chapters help guide the story. They tether it all together and enrich the story that unfolds in one magical day. Though the ending chapters seems a little rushed, I loved this book. Nicola Yoon is definitely an author to be on the lookout for.

Rating: 5/5

March Books 1-3 Review

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March Book 1: Spans Congressman John Lewis’ youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins, building to a stunning climax on the steps of City Hall.

March Book 2: After the success of the Nashville sit-in campaign, John Lewis is more committed than ever to changing the world through nonviolence — but as he and his fellow Freedom Riders board a bus into the vicious heart of the deep south, they will be tested like never before. Faced with beatings, police brutality, imprisonment, arson, and even murder, the movement’s young activists place their lives on the line while internal conflicts threaten to tear them apart.

March Book 3: By the fall of 1963, the Civil Rights Movement has penetrated deep into the American consciousness, and as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, John Lewis is guiding the tip of the spear. The only hope for lasting change is to give voice to the millions of Americans silenced by voter suppression: “One Man, One Vote.” To carry out their nonviolent revolution, Lewis and an army of young activists launch a series of innovative campaigns, including the Freedom Vote, Mississippi Freedom Summer, and an all-out battle for the soul of the Democratic Party waged live on national television.

My Review:

These are books I feel everyone should read. There was so much I didn’t know about that movement until I read them. I knew the basics, but to see the full details, with dates and names, was a different thing all together. I ended up grabbing a pad and paper and writing down some of the names of the people mentioned so I could do further research on all of them.

This is not an easy read. What these people went through can be horrifying at times. It’s haunting to know that this was how people in the United States felt (and some still feel) only 50 years ago. Congressman Lewis and all the people part of that movement chose a brave and courageous path when they decided to fight back against injustice with nonviolence. I’ve been becoming more and more aware of my privilege, but these books really hammered in the point. No one was safe if they were part of a movement. Members ended up jailed, beaten, and even killed. The fact that they didn’t give up or give in to violence is mind blowing. Even when there was dissension in the ranks, Lewis held true to his beliefs. His was not an easy life, but he fought for what he believed in and he still does as a Congressman today.

I wish I had the perfect words to give these titles the justice they deserve. I learned so much from reading them and I hope I became a better person for having done so.

Rating: 5/5