Bottomland by Michelle Hoover

Book Review

 


BottomlandBook Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Book Series: N/A

Released: 3/1/16 by Grove Press

Pages: 336  Price:$16.oo paperback

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Buy the Book: Amazon Bottomland: A Novel

Source: I borrowed this book from my library.

 

 

Book Synopsis:

At once intimate and sweeping, Bottomland—the anticipated second novel from Michelle Hoover—follows the Hess family in the years after World War I as they attempt to rid themselves of the Anti-German sentiment that left a stain on their name. But when the youngest two daughters vanish in the middle of the night, the family must piece together what happened while struggling to maintain their life on the unforgiving Iowa plains.

In the weeks after Esther and Myrle’s disappearance, their siblings desperately search for the sisters, combing the stark farmlands, their neighbors’ houses, and the unfamiliar world of far-off Chicago. Have the girls run away to another farm? Have they gone to the city to seek a new life? Or were they abducted? Ostracized, misunderstood, and increasingly isolated in their tightly-knit small town in the wake of the war, the Hesses fear the worst. Told in the voices of the family patriarch and his children, this is a haunting literary mystery that spans decades before its resolution. Hoover deftly examines the intrepid ways a person can forge a life of their own despite the dangerous obstacles of prejudice and oppression.

My Review:

Alright, confession time.  I’m breaking my rules by reviewing this book.  I swore after a psycho author harassed me at work I would never review an All Iowa Reads book again.  Ever.  I would read them of course so I could participate in the book discussion held at my library but my thoughts of that year’s title would not leave that room and never be posted on my blog again.

So, why am I reviewing this year’s selection?  Well, mainly because I really liked it.  This is by far the best All Iowa Read’s selection that I have read in my years working in a small town Iowa library.  I am totally shocked!  I have to give props to the panel this year’s title was a good call.

There was so much I could relate to in this book.  Being from Iowa I knew this family, or rather one just like it.  In fact, my best friend growing up was a first generation German and I remember spending so much of my youth at their farm.  I felt like I knew these people and could identify with them even though I am only part German.  I have a feeling that most people are going to be able to either see themselves or someone they know in these characters.

Surprising that isn’t what hooked me, though, it was the mystery of what happen to those girls that held my interest.  This was a well-crafted puzzle that I didn’t quite figure out and was pleased to see how everything turned out.  I also thought this book was very timely for the current immigrant drama going on in our country.  So many forget that their family too came from elsewhere and that they probably weren’t welcome here either.  It seems that after a few generations we forget to have any compassion to those just arriving and how much new blood contributes to our society.  The book delves into to sexism and should remind us just how far woman’s rights have come and just how far they have yet to go.

This was a surprisingly good listen.  I find myself still reflecting on it and remembering my childhood.  I’ve lost connection to that childhood friend and her family, it often happens.  I wish them well, though, and thank them for letting me experience their culture for a time.

My Rating:4 Stars

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Monday Morning Check-In: Better Late Than Never…

Monday Morning Check-In

 

Good Monday morning  everyone…. I know it is almost 9 p.m. and I’m just getting around to posting my weekly check in post.  Essentially it has simply been a busy day.  I meant to do this first thing this morning but when I went out to feed the birds I noticed there was no wind and we needed to burn trash in the worst way so I did that one chore quickly which lead to another and another and before you know it I’ve cut my husband’s hair, done dishes, a load of laundry and fired up the lawn mower for the first cutting of the year and the blog post is pushed back to after my evening meeting.  Still the day is not over yet and I will get a check-in post this week!

Not a lot of reading this weekend, we went to a city-wide garage sale and bird swap on Saturday and I had yet another meeting on Sunday that ended with a quick trip to Aldi’s and hours spent roaming Wal-Mart’s cosmetic’s department as I realized I know nothing about makeup.  I’m serious I spent so much time there completely overwhelmed as I tried to figure out what basic makeup I needed to pull together a professional look for BEA.  I did get some items but after playing with them this weekend I realize there is some other items I need yet.  I don’t wear makeup in my normal life but thought it might be nice to wear for the conference where I’m going to represent the blog.  If you know of any good online tutorials, a makeup for middle-aged makeup dummies please share in the comments.

Beyond that not a lot going on besides meetings and more meetings.  I’m struggling with the All Iowa Reads for work again.  I won’t be reviewing the book here after the drama from last year’s author, but I still need to read it.  I must say that author has kind of ruined the whole program for me as I so want to DNF this year’s book.  I’m not going to review it, I’m not liking it, I simply don’t want to waste time reading it.  Maybe I can suffer through a few more pages and just talk about how it didn’t work for me at the book talk.  Such a bad attitude, but I really don’t want to read it.  I’m not going to get to count it toward my reading goals or review it on the blog so it just feels like a total waste of time that could be used reading something I actually want to read…

Well that’s about it.  I’m sorry today’s post is so late, but life happens sometimes.  Have a great week reading and see you tomorrow for Top Ten Tuesday!

Monday Morning Check-In: I don’t wanna…

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Good Monday morning everyone.  I can not believe this is the last day of August,  I want my summer back.  This weekend was spent laboring away with farm chores.  It was hay weekend, one that hurts not only my arms but my pocketbook.  Oh well its done and the critters will have food to eat come November.  Hubby and I also went to go see the latest Mission Impossible movie.  It was good and we enjoyed it, but I am not sure what I think about the fact that two of the producers were Chinese companies.  I’m going to have to think on that a bit…

Anyway on to the reading part of our program.  I’m still behind and I’m seriously thinking of not even signing up for the Goodreads reading goal next year.  I’m sick of the nagging little widget that makes me feel like a freaking failure every time I log on.  Maybe I’ll just put it at some ridiculously low goal and just use it to see how many book I read in a year instead.  Next month my library is participating in the All Iowa Reads, I’ve mentioned this before on the blog.  It is a title that the Iowa Center for the Book selects for everyone, mainly library patrons, to read each year.  There has only ever been one book that I actually enjoyed that was selected because these people do not pick books for readers like me.  They have a who list of criteria and reasoning behind their selection, but it basically ends up being a book to appeal to the masses and/or something they consider intellectual (read:boring).  Perhaps I’m just in a mood today, but I am NOT looking forward to this year’s selection at all. It is:

My Name Is Mary Sutter

 

The cover links to Goodreads if you want to check it out, but this is not going to be a fun read for me.  It is a historical set during the civil war and had some pretty graphic scenes from what I’ve heard.  I’ll suck it up and read it so I can participate, but I really don’t think I am going to enjoy the book.  Perhaps I just need to think of it as a chore, and read a couple of chapters a day and then set it aside for something I like better.  Okay, enough whining for one day…  Have a great week and happy reading.

Little Wolves by Thomas Maltman – 4 Stars

 

This book on Goodreads.

Finally an All Iowa Reads (AIR) book I enjoyed. Thank you for this year’s selection Iowa Center for the Book.

Every year the library I work for participates in the AIR program and I always dread having to read the book they select. It’s not that they are bad books, but just something I would never select or be interested in. In fact I have noticed that quite often they are books that not many of our patrons enjoy. I think the committee needs a little fresh blood in it to mix things up a bit. This year, however, I think they did a fine job of picking something that is going to appeal to most people. The book moved at a nice pace, has plenty of action, some mystery and a setting that most people in Iowa are going to identify with (even if it doesn’t take place in Iowa).

To me this book is about loss and death; how people come to terms with tragic situations, find closure and move on. It is also about small towns and the grudges, prejudices and traditions they so love to hold onto. How they can protect the monsters that live within their communities to the detriment of those that live there and how small town cliques can be worse than any high school in America. Small town have long memories and in the end, if they don’t want to die out, they need to learn to let things go and not hold the past against future generations.

This story was told from two perspectives, Grizz and Clara’s, both outcasts in the community in which they live. Grizz because of who his family is and Clara because she is a newcomer. They are both linked by a tragedy, an awful murder and suicide committed by Grizz’s son Seth. We spend the book learning the events leading up the the event and what caused him to do something so horrible. We also learn more of these two character’s past and what all connects them. I really enjoyed getting to know Grizz and Clara, but wish it could have been under better circumstances. They are both strong good people and it was nice to see them triumph over the events in the book to find some sort of peace in the end.

The people of the town upset me, even though I think they are pretty accurate representations of people who have lived in a small mid-west community for generations. It upsets me that there are still people like this in the world and that they get away with bullying people, that they feel free to intimidate and harass people who they deem less then in the community. Perhaps it isn’t such a bad thing that small town life is dying out. Maybe there will be fewer monsters in the world.

The ending was fitting and action packed. Even though this is a dark book in places there is peace and justice to be had in the end. It is a good book and I’m glad I read it.

New Author Month: March Reading Goal

Thought I would try something new for March.  I’m going to spend the month reading only authors I have never read before and only one of their books.  If I like the series I will just add the next book to the to-read shelf. The past few weeks I have been cleaning up my Nook and bookshelf catching up on all the latest releases in series I follow. I am all caught up, for the most part, and I thought it might be fun to try finding some new authors to love.  Are there any authors you love that you would suggest?

I will also have one book to get through this month outside of my normal reading tastes. The library I work for participates in the All Iowa Reads program and this month we will be getting this year’s selection, Little Wolves by Thomas Maltman, so I will be reading that as well. I hope it is better than previous year’s selections, I have yet to really enjoy one of the books this progam selects.  Have any of you read it?  What did you think?

I will also be introducing a feature to my blog next week, Top Ten Tuesday.  Now I know this isn’t a totally original idea, I’ve seen it or something similar done on other blogs, but still might be fun.

2014 reading goal 104 books. Books read as of end of February 35.  I think I might need to adjust my goal…