JANUARY BOOK REVIEWS
CARINA LIM ‘21
I made a New Year’s Resolution to read a book every week, and so far it’s been working, so here are four book reviews from January!
After Mandela : The Struggle for Freedom in Post-Apartheid South Africa
Length : 600 Pages. Huge Pages. Tiny font. Super long.
Rating : 10/10. Please read this book.
Similar books : The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot by Blaine Harden
Arguably the best work of non-fiction I’ve ever read, Foster provides a compelling, deeply intriguing narrative on life in South Africa after Mandela’s hard won victory against deep-rooted apartheid regimes. From Mbeki’s presidency and rivalry with Jacob Zuma to the politicization of the AIDs epidemic, Foster covers almost any topic imaginable, interweaving deeply personal interviews conducted over an 8 year span to create a brutally honest, sobering exposé of life in South Africa after Mandela. Foster is currently a professor of journalism at Northwestern and has decades of experience in his profession. All in all, After Mandela serves his reputation as a renowned journalist and established academic well.
Not only does Foster writes from an unbiased perspective, After Mandela is also an interesting juxtaposition of political journalism, self-reflection, and stories from ordinary citizens that blends together masterfully and makes this story appealing even to those who know little to nothing about South Africa.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz
Length : 300 Pages. The pages are small so it’s quite short.
Rating : I didn’t particularly like it, it’s a good story but I didn’t enjoy the writing.
Similar books : Anne Frank : The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank , The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Tattooist of Auschwitz is the true story of Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew who served as a tattooist who marked prisoners of Auschwitz with the numbers that replaced their identity. Through sheer grit and luck he manages to survive several years in Auschwitz, even falling in love with a woman named Gita. While this is definitely an inspiring story of hope amidst ghastly circumstances, the writing itself leaves a lot more to be desired. Heather Morris is a writer who primarily deals with screenwriting, and this translates to The Tattooist of Auschwitz relying very heavily on dialogue. This results in a rather simplistic writing style and lack of depth of characters, creating a rather bland narration of what would otherwise be a deeply riveting story.
Length : 430 Pages. Medium length?
Rating : 10/10. Please read this book.
Similar Books : The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
In this critically-acclaimed autobiography that truly lives up to the hype, Michelle Obama examines her life’s journey in a refreshingly frank manner. From her roots in the South Side of Chicago to living in the White House, she is a masterful, eloquent narrator that manages to consistently draw her readers in. She encourages us to share and listen to stories, explaining how there’s power in owning your story and allowing yourself to be heard. One key line that stuck with me was from a question she posed in Becoming’s introduction; Who are we and who do we want to become? It was an insightful, entertaining, and monumental read.
What if it’s Us
Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
Length : 433 Pages, but the font was kinda big and the pages were small so it’s actually not very long.
Rating : Great for its target audience as a piece YA fiction.
Similar Books : History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
Written by two critically acclaimed writers of the LGBTQ+ scene, Albertalli and Silvera present a piece of YA fiction that, to me, represents a milestone in just how far YA fiction has come. What if it’s Us is centered around a chance encounter and subsequent romance between Ben, who is Puerto Rican, and Arthur, who is Jewish and has ADHD. Ben is written by Silvera, who has Puerto Rican roots while Arthur is written by Albertalli, who is, well, Jewish. This book is the epitome of well written representation, featuring a whole host of unique characters while not making representation its main point and thus ruining it. While I didn’t really connect with either of the main characters well, I cannot argue against the importance of having critically acclaimed, popular LGBTQ+ writers in the YA fiction scene.
This book reads like YA fiction, which means that while the interactions are entertaining and cute, it lacks a lot of substance. Also, it was super hard to tell both the protagonists apart in the first half of the book because their voices were almost the exact same. Either way, it was still a fun read.