Happy Martin Luther King Day! Usually I just feature middle grade reads on my blog. But over Christmas break, I had time to catch up on some longer reads. One of these was light and entertaining, but the other two are books I will be thinking about for a long time.
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs
This book is hard to put into words. I picked this up as a classic I’m reading as I work my way through the Well Educated Mind reading list.
Much of the account takes place before 1850 when the Fugitive Slave Law was passed. This book pulled me immediately me from the beginning with Harriet’s descriptions of her early childhood, which was relatively happy to her sexual harassment by her “owner” and her flight and concealment (for seven years!) in her grandma’s shed. She lived Patrick Henry’s statement, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Wanting something better for her children was the driving force in the many dangers and sacrifices she made. I liked how she highlighted people who helped her (both black and white) and how she considered someone buying her freedom an abomination. God had created her free.
Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas by Stephanie Bannon
This was a fun read I enjoyed over Christmas break. Stephanie Bannon captured Jane’s voice so well that I felt like I was reading an Austen novel. I loved seeing how many of Jane’s relatives (her brother and sister-in-law especially) were like Austen’s characters. The mystery was intriguing, and I liked Jane’s sidekick sleuth, the mysterious Raphael West. Lots of other interesting parts: the story is framed by the doll clothes Jane and her sister give to their niece and the mystery itself ties in the Treaty of Ghent and the war of 1812. I always find it interesting to hear about American wars from a British point of view. This is a great winter read, especially as snow plays a prominent part and most of the action happens just after Christmas.
This title comes from a North Korean song that children learn in school, which sums up how the regime wants its people to think about their country. This book reads like fiction, but it’s actually based on interviews with several defectors. I was amazed by the way women found ways to provide for their families during the famine, despite capitalism being banned and electricity sporadic. One woman was born the same year as I. How different our lives have been despite us both being teachers and entering college the same year. I didn’t know a lot about North Korea before, although I’ve studied a lot about the Russian brand of communism. This book, especially the poignant love story, will stay with you for a long time. Highly recommended.
What books have you been reading lately?