Sunday, December 28, 2014

Love and Drowning

Sometimes I like to trawl through Buzzfeed Books.  Their content is hit or miss, but I like the articles they pull together with 20 books for cranky people, or 5 books to read before the movie comes out, or any combination of various numbers of books that meet various off-the-wall conditions.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that Buzzfeed recently had an article called "20 Under 40 Debut Writers You Need to Be Reading."  I added quite a few to my "books to look for" shelf in Goodreads.  Then, as I was in the local library for an unrelated reason, I saw one sitting there on the new arrivals shelf, just waiting to be checked out.

This book is set in the U.S. Virgin Islands, both before and after the islands become a U.S. territory.  I have had a bit of an interest in Caribbean literature after visiting the DR and reading The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, so this book fit right into that groove and pulled me out of making a final push toward finishing my 2014 Challenge books.

This is mostly the story of two sisters, but it's also about how Virgin Island society changes as tourists, cars, TVs, and American-style racism show up on the islands.

There's a strong mystical bent to the story.  People move between myth and supernatural activities and normal day-to-day life without much comment.  Annette, the main character, has a wonderful, strong, unique voice.  She and her sister Eeona are elemental.  They take action based on urges, compulsions, and fate, despite rational thought warning them away.  Annette speaks and thinks in a strange English, she makes the words bend to her.

I am not whole-heartedly endorsing Land because I am not sure I understand a major facet of the book, the thematic element that blends together and confuses familial and romantic love.  

Final Call:

That being said, I do recommend this book, strongly.  The author does a wonderful job of capturing the relationship between people and their homelands.  At catching racial nuances.  She weaves a spell and its worth getting caught up in it.  At the end, I actually missed being in a place I have never physically been!


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