18. Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe. what made reading this book interesting was reading The Color Purple at the same time, and reading The Ecyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits just beforehand. The former has scenes taking place in Africa around the same time period, and the latter addresses some of the ghosts and spirits mentioned in Things fall Apart. The story centers on Okonkwo, a well-regarded leader in his fictional village in Nigeria. Okonkwo prides himself mightily in the fact that he pulled himself up through the ranks through his own strength and courage, and he looks down on those he perceives as weak. He especially has nothing but scorn for his late father, a gentle but weak man whose shadow Okonkwo has sought to wrest himself free of his entire life. Okonkwo is a hard man, even abusive, to his family. His downfall, though, happens after he accidentally shoots and kills the son of a recently deceased elder. During his time in exile, in his mother's home village, Okonkwo's village sees major changes from the influx of white colonists eager to take over the land to plant rubber trees. The book is balanced and unflinching in dealing with both Okonkwo's tribal customs and the white settlers - including white missionaries. Both have issues and problems, both have good. Still, it is painfully apparent (as history shows) how disasterous colonialism was to Africa. Okonkwo's end is sad but seems inevitable; he represented the old ways, the old leadership, which has effectively been nullified by the outside world.
19. Doll Bones, by Holly Black. I really liked this coming of age story for the most part, although i'm not sure I liked the ending. The story follows three longtime friends, Poppy, Alice and Zach. We hear the story mostly through Zach's voice. The three have been playing an intricate fantasy game for years, using numerous dolls and figures, including the "Queen," an antique china doll. But when Zach's recently returned father decides that his son shouldn't be playing fantasy games with two girls, but should be spending more time with boys playing basketball, Zach finds himself torn. It looks like the end to the threesome's adventure until Poppy has a dream involving the antique doll, which propels Zach, Alice and Poppy into one final and real adventure. Mystery, adventure and a good dose of outright spookiness make for a fast-paced tale. What I liked was watching the three change on their adventure, particularly Alice. The very end felt a bit forced, as if the author was trying very hard for an upbeat ending. Not sure a happy ending was fitting, though. All three were beginning to change even before the story got going, and I got the impression that after this final fling, the three would eventually drift apart, as what happens so often in real life. All in all, though, I found this an enjoyable tale.
Currently reading: Darius and Twig, by Walter Dean Myers, and Half Brother, by Kenneth Oppel.