Happy November, bookworms! I’m so happy November is here because 1) I love seeing the leaves turn brown and yellow, 2) Yay, comfort-food weather, and 3) I’m finally done with midterms!
A new month also means that it’s time to tell you about what I read in October! (Spoiler alert: it wasn’t much).
Unfortunately, I could only finish reading one book this month. However, since I’m taking an American Literature class in university, I feel like I read a lot more! The essays I got to study this month were amazing and definitely quenched my thirst for literature.
But, moving on, here is my October wrap-up (spoiler-free, of course)…
There There by Tommy Orange
There There follows the story of several characters whose lives intertwine. From a mentally ill young man to an elderly woman who has recently gotten sober, Tommy Orange shows us a wide array of characters.
The lives of these characters are all a bit disjointed and we follow them over the course of only a few days, sometimes only hours. Despite this, they all have one thing in common: they’re all Native Americans who are brought together to celebrate the Big Oakland Powwow.
I thought this was a very interesting debut by Tommy Orange. It felt very good to read from the perspective of several Native American characters, all descendent from different tribes, and to see how they get on with life. I was very pleased to see how different each character related to their Native background: did they reject it? distance themselves from it? capitalized on it?
However, I couldn’t relate on an emotional level with most of the characters. Since there are so many cuts from one POV to the other, I felt I didn’t spend enough time with any of the characters. This is usually an issue I have with books where we have more than one POV, and unfortunately, I don’t think Tommy Orange nailed the narrative quite yet.
I can’t not mention that prelude to the story, though. Before the proper narrative starts, we get a brief account of Native American history through the eyes of a Native. From King Phillip’s War (or Metacomet War) to the rounding up of Natives in reservations, Tommy Orange makes the reader question their perspective of Native American place in history.
All in all, I’m giving There There three stars, but I’m very hopeful for what Tommy Orange has to write and publish next!
After I was done with There There I decided to pick up a book that had gotten on my radar at the beginning of the year: Escape by Carolyn Jessop & Laura Palmer.
Escape is a first-person non-fiction book (YAY non-fiction!) about one woman’s escape from a radical religious cult. Carolyn Jessop was born and raised in the heart of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS). This radical church branched out from the Mormon church in the 19th century, when polygamy was outlawed in the United States.
Carolyn had always wanted to go to university and become a doctor. But, being a woman in the community, she was “destined” (according to the Prophet) to marry as soon as she became of age. Most of the book tells the story of her life as the fourth (but not last!) wife of Merryl Jessop.
I am absolutely loving this book. I started it in early October and so far I’ve only read 60% of it. Not because it’s bad or boring — at all! But because of exams and a very sensitive subject matter. Carolyn’s strength to not only escape but perform small acts of rebellion during her unhappy marriage are memorable.
I can’t wait to keep reading and eventually finish this one! If you’re interested in life inside a religious cult in America, this is definitely for you. However, I’ll throw out there that there are some trigger warnings for rape, domestic violence, bullying, and some gory scenes.
What did you read in October? Was it a good reading month for you? Here’s to an even better one in November! 🌻