Posts Tagged ‘racial struggles’

Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Yesterday, I finished reading a book that can only be described as disappointing for me. The Water is Wide by Pat Conroy is one of those books that I can certainly see the merit for, but can’t fully grasp.

After reading Conroy’s latest novel, South of Broad, I was intrigued to go furthur with the author. His expertise in writing exceeded many authors I had read before and he really knew how to drag me into the story. As for The Water is Wide, I was only dragged slightly and tried to escape several times.

The book is a memoir. It’s a look back on a year’s worth of teaching Conroy did on a small island called Yamacraw. All the children he meets when he gets to the island are so cut off from the outside world that he must teach them simple things just to give them a broad understanding of life. Some of the children don’t even know how to read; many cannot write.

Throughout the book, there are a lot of political issues that arise between the schoolboard officials, Conroy, and the other parents and teachers on the island. In fact, I’d say most of the book deals with those issues. Of course, one of the main areas of focus is the racial difference between whites and blacks. At first, most of the parents and teachers on the island are leary of a white schoolteacher, but then they eventually grow comfortable with Conroy.

I wished he would have spent more time on his dealings with the students instead of the political situation on the island. The occasions that he did talk about the children were too few, but very entertaining. Over the course of his year there, he was able to take the children off the island at least three times and expose them to the world. It was interesting to hear about their reactions.

Overall, this book is definitely a must read for anyone who wants to be a teacher. I can understand why so many college professors often use this book in their classes. It gives you a different view of teaching, lent to the fact that Conroy taught in such an extreme environment with children who had no previous exposure to much of the real world.

But as for me, it was too longwinded. Maybe the next Conroy novel I read will be better?

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Okay, so lately I have been a reading fiend. (Probably one of the main reasons why I haven’t posted in a bit.) I’ve been spending more time reading than any other thing (except going to work, bah.) My house is laid out randomly, but with bookshelves everywhere. Those shelves hold the key to my entertainment — tons and tons of books I’ve been storing away like a pack rat, but haven’t read yet.

The other day, I went perusing through my bookshelves and came across a little book called The Secret Life of Bees. It’s written by Sue Monk Kidd, an author that I had heard much about, but had never experience for myself. Published a little over two years ago, I have found the book to be a treasure in my library.

It’s about a young girl named Lily Owens, who is coping with the fact that she may or may not have accidentally shot her own mother when she was a toddler. Her father is abusive, and offers few answers to the mysteries that circle around her mother’s death. But still, she spends her days daydreaming about what her mother was like and the short-lived relationship they once shared.

The book is set during the Civil Rights movement. Lily’s black housekeeper, Rosaleen, tries to register to vote and ends up being locked away in prison, not to mention beaten by prejudice townspeople. So Lily busts Rosaleen out of jail and they both flee to a bee farm and live with a group of beekeeper sisters. The farm, however, draws Lily to it by the only clue her mother left behind: a small picture of a black Mary with the town of the bee farm written on the back of it.

Throughout the story, she tries to piece together things about her mother and learn how to care for bees as well. In the end, she finds out that her mother had spent time on the very same farm with the very same sisters. It is up to her to decide how to process all the information she finds about her mother.

I think Sue Monk Kidd’s writing style is one of the most eloquent and beautiful I have ever read. It gives you just enough, reels you out, then pulls you back in stronger than before. Her attention to small details makes it special and her words fill you up with a cozy feeling inside. This book is also great commentary on racial struggles during the Civil Rights movement. This is a great book.

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