Thursday, November 26, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: "Stand the Storm" by Breena Clarke

BOOK REVIEW: "Stand the Storm" by Breena Clarke (2008)

I read this book for my reading group. But first the back story on getting the book.

I've been living in Cairo since August. At the time before I relocated, I did not have foresight to get the books for my reading group and have them shipped. And who knew that it would be such a challenge to get anything, let alone books, shipped into Egypt - even if I work at a university.

When my first visitors confirmed their visit, I went on a shopping spree via Amazon. I purchased several book including "Stand the Storm" for my friends to bring w/them. This turned out to be a good idea. Except for when my friends arrived and doled out the goodies, there were some books missing including "Stand the Storm". So I double-check the shipment info from Amazon, bugged my sister countless times because I'd sent everything to her house and fretted about where the books might be. Well, several days into their visit, turns out that my friend 'forgot' that he stashed some of the books in some compartment in his luggage. Whew, that was close.

I nearly started immediately on "Stand the Storm". I really enjoyed reading this book. At times, I could not put it down. It's a historical fiction about slavery; well, not so much about slavery as it about a family of freed slaves. or should I say free people. The terminology is interesting. But the plot resonates: they make a name and a life for themselves, but in some ways, they are always slaves.

There are many struggles that the primary family, The Coates', experiences. I like the way that Clarke intricately writes the details of their lives. They are a family that makes hand crafts: tailoring, knitting, embroidery and more. There are even some scenes from the Civil War that depict things in ways that I've never read about before. The story is set in Washington, D.C.; Georgetown in particular. And there is some mention too of how the government was struggling to deal with the issue of slavery.

I have not read Clarke's "River Cross my Heart," but I like her style of writing. She does a fairly good job on giving some depth to the characters.

The "Stand the Storm" Reading Group Guide is a good one.

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