on Feb. 1, 2016 :
This book is filled with adversity within a microcosm of which I have never experienced. My life, my domain, is one of conservative Christian living. I am familiar with the lifestyle of the Amish and those who live as farmers and hunters, but not this. This setting of this book and all of its realities opened doors to help me see inside a life that quite honestly I feel blessed to have not had. The challenges of the characters are real and come to life through verbiage that I found hard to read. BUT, the style helps the reader to see the soul and character of each being. Language is a part of our culture in which we reside. It is only one facet that defines us. The environment we are born into and reside sets the stage for who we will become and that is what is so apparent in this book. To me, reading is about stepping into another realm and walking in the shoes of someone else for just a while to learn and to grow. In this book your eyes will be opened to many realities of well formed characters. The flow of the book at times is ill paced. The language used is not recommended for the weak at heart nor the children in any setting. There are several sexual references as well. This book is for a mature reader who wants to see experience the unfolding of the plot as it takes many twists and turns. It is different from any book I have ever read. I recommend it with cautions.
(reviewed the day of purchase)
on Jan. 17, 2016 :
The Makings of a Fatherless Child is brutal book. So, if you are looking for: people that behave nicely, loving families, story in which underprivileged child wins at the end, rainbows and happy endings this is not a book for you.
This is a story of Amel River. He is a boy/ young man who lives in Bear Ridge, Mississippi. That is definitely not a nice place to be born. Also his family is dysfunctional; his mother is mentally ill, his father is not present, his sister who is in her teens is also a mother of a small chils.
The story follows Amel’s life from age 13 to age 18, but focuses the most on his 15th year of life. Amal is complex character. On one hand he is full of rage, without any direction in life and through the story he does some really unthinkable things. On the other he is poet/ writer and he cares deeply for his little nephew. Some of his writings are scattered through the story.
The storyteller is Amal himself, and he is telling his story with brutal honesty. That honesty brings, angry words, swearing, dysfunctional relationship, rape, and murders. This story is full of hopelessness, not just Amal’s but other characters also. They are all stuck in the Mississippi mud, and they cannot get out of it.
Although this is not a perfect story; one of its shortages is uneven pace, but then again what make is really good and strong is authenticity. Due to that reason it is worth reading.
(reviewed 8 days after purchase)
on Jan. 10, 2016 :
I remember feeling frustrated in my pre-teenage years because there was so much I wanted to do, but my age wouldn't allow it. I was the person getting in the way of my wants the most, but there was nothing I could do about it.
Because of that, I was able to really relate to this book. That is, as much as a white American woman born into a traditional family where only one parent works because his wage can support the entire family and then some can relate to the story of an underprivileged boy. I'm not saying this to brag, but instead to show that this book can benefit anyone who reads it. I have a lot of privileges and entitlements that I was born into, many of which I am sure I don't recognize on a day to day basis, but this book helped remind me of how blessed I am.
I don't say this to guilt trip anyone- the book walks a careful line and is able to avoid the 'guilt trip' zone for its reader, so I applaud the author for that. Seeing Amel grow and mature really strokes the heartstrings, especially when I, as a reader, am able to see how he grows from each successive trial. It was that same maturity that made me ponder the choice of ending. The ending itself was good (I won't slip spoilers, don't worry) but it's also set up in a way that there's a potential for a sequel, but that could also be the final ending. Nonetheless, it was a good read.
*As a side note- it took me between four and five hours to read cover to cover.
(reviewed the day of purchase)
on Jan. 5, 2016 :
This has a storyline that has an authentic voice. As the story begins with Shake at the age of 13 and then 15, we are witness to him maturing and growing into himself. The characters speech is authentic and using ‘real’ slang language terms that help the reader in engaging with this.
I do think the beginning was set up well but the finish not so well. It left this with a cliff hanger and wasn’t the most rewarding of conclusions to a book that at times is a slog to get through. This novel could have perhaps been written shorter.
The pace is good, the moments of comedy are dark and help balance the gritty realism of this novel.
(reviewed 3 days after purchase)