Olivia (olivialove) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Last week's reads: Memoir & Classic

Hi everyone!  I am new to this community and so glad I've found it!  Now that I am done with school and my degree I have all this new time to get back to my love of reading.
November was a quite a productive month for me.  I got through 10 books last month

Here are my most recent two reviews-


Author: Jewel Kilcher
Title: Never Broken

Date completed: 11/29/15
Genre: Memoir
Format: I tend to read memoirs and biographies through audio only, this is via Audible
Description: New York Times bestselling poet and multi-platinum singer-songwriter Jewel explores her unconventional upbringing and extraordinary life in an inspirational memoir that covers her childhood to fame, marriage, and motherhood.

Must read this in audio! Please do yourself a favor and do not read the actual book, but listen to it on audible or CD or download.
Jewel recites the book exactly was it was meant to be heard when she wrote it, she also sings some of her songs in certain chapters. The whole book feels like an intimate conversation.

The stories of her youth were by far, the most interesting part of the book. I could relate to much of what she went through, since I also grew up very poor, only lived with my mom for a few years of my life, and experienced homelessness (though I was in 6th grade, while Jewel was in her teens). Her struggles as a child and going into early adulthood were thoroughly fascinating. But it was difficult to read about what her mother did to her. Seriously. What an awful person.

There are, as others mentioned, some self-helpy passages in the book. But I didn't really mind it, something about her delivery and rhythm made it pleasant.

In high school Jewel was my favorite artist. I read her book of poems so many times, I had some of them burned to memory. Her songs and poetry played such a big part of my life during my high school years, so when she came out with this book I was intrigued, but had no expectations (since I hadn't heard a song from her in over a decade). I realized within the very first chapter that it was like becoming acquainted again with a long lost friend.

Book #30

Author: Willa Cather
Title: My Antonia

Date Completed: 11/23/15
Genre: Fiction, Classics
Format: Paperback
Description: Lush descriptions of the rolling Nebraska grasslands interweave with the blossoming of a woman in the early days of the twentieth century, in an epic novel that chronicles America's past.

"All those fall afternoons were the same, but I never got used to them... The blond cornfields were red gold, the haystacks turned rosy and threw long shadows. The whole prairie was like the bush that burned with fire and was not consumed. That hour always had the exultation of victory, of triumphant ending, like a hero's death- heroes who died young and gloriously. It was a sudden transfiguration, a lifting-up of day."

Much of what makes this novel great are descriptive passages like these about the Nebraska landscape. As someone who has never seen the state, Cather made me appreciate it's beauty.
However, it is not just the descriptive and beautiful writing that gives weight to the story, rather the characters she paints so well (semi-autobiographical makes it all the more intriguing!) through Lena, the Marys, and Antonia we get insight into the immigrant experience at the end of the 19th century. It focuses primarily on the female plight, through Jim Burden's sympathetic eyes. There are also undertones of feminine inequality in general.

In all, through the many characters we meet, the story seems most to me, like a rumination on life as a female in the early 1900s. What roles in life are expected of her, what is likely to become of one born in country versus city surroundings, or how the rest of their lives hinge on the type of man they marry. And the men in the story who do deplorable things (Mr.Cutter- sexual harassment and attempted rape & the Donovan boy- lying and basically robbing Antonia) just get off completely scott free. The whole chapter about Mr.Cutter devising a scheme to rape Antonia made my blood boil, when nothing was even done to him as a result! But I must say, that chapter sure made me that much more thankful for the feminist movement, and ever so thankful my little existence on this planet did not occur 100 years ago.

Lastly, there is the interesting tidbit about the story being based on Cather's own experiences, but choosing to make the main character in the novel a male. I wonder about the thought process behind that decision. I partly surmise, that given the time period of the writing, a male lead could have made readers more accepting of the sympathetic tone in regards to the young immigrant girls. Or maybe the story would have been taken more seriously as whole, seen through the eyes of a male.

At any rate, it is a thoroughly enjoyable book. Also, it is not slow to start (like so many other classics are), nor is it a difficult read.
Tags: memoir

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