What’s Ashley Reading?: Hour of the Witch

Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian

First line: It was always possible that the Devil was present.

Summary: Mary Deerfield, a young married woman in 1662 Boston, has been hiding a secret from her friends and family. In the years that she has been married her husband has hit her numerous times while drunk for imagined slights against him. But then one day he takes his cruelty one step further. He drives a three-tined fork, the Devil’s tines, into her hand. With a strong conviction of finally divorcing her abusive husband she also faces suspicion from the Puritan community. She finds that she is suspected of things that could lead her to a death on the gallows.

My Thoughts: This book started very slowly for me. Much of it dealt with the time period, life and getting to know the characters and their history. I felt that story finally picked up after the divorce trial. The pace seemed to be faster and the story more intriguing. But once the story picked up I was completely enthralled but disgusted by everything.

It is hard sometimes to read historical books, especially if the author writes them accurately. I feel like the author brought to life the true sense of the ridiculousness of Puritan Boston. Their views on women, the Devil and anything that was different. I rolled my eyes so many times during the trials because of the hearsay, circumstantial evidence and belief system of the time. Reading these types of books we see how far society has come but we still have a long way to go as well.

I enjoyed Mary’s story. She was a strong woman in a very restrictive society. She endures a lot throughout the book and much of it at no fault of her own. I was definitely rooting for her the whole time. I wanted things to be better for her with every disappointment and injury. But her husband and many of the other characters were awful people that I could not wait to see the end of.

I do not know how I feel about the ending. It almost seemed like a cop-out. Too easy of an ending but at the same time I liked aspects of it. Rating this was difficult but I think that it was worth the read.

FYI: Wonderful historical fiction. Perfect if you are interested in colonial America and the Salem Witch Trials.

Xochitl’s Book Thoughts: All We Knew But Couldn’t Say

All We Knew But Couldn’t Say by Joanne Vannicola

First line of the book: I never know what condition she’ll be in when I arrive at the hospital – if she’ll lucid, rambling, awake, sleeping, in an altered state, or gone.

Summary and Thoughts:

Joanne Vannicola went through a life of trauma and pain before reaching stardom. All of her childhood resurfaces once her abusive mother is on her deathbed. Vannicola’s life was a tale of eating disorders enabled by her mother, abuse from both of her parents, and sibling bonds torn apart from everything going on. Vannicola also delves into her sexuality, especially when she is entering young adulthood, from small crushes to the people she dated. She doesn’t leave out any part of her life so one can see the bad choices she makes in her life and how her upbringing influenced her growth. Vannicola goes back and forth between the past and present. The little things that her mother says or does currently sourly reminds Vannicola of her troubled family life.

I found myself to be easily lost in her world as Vannicola goes into deep detail of her setting and her strong emotions at the time. Anyone who has had a difficult upbringing will relate to the several ways that Joanne Vannicola tried to forget her living situation, especially during her younger years. My favorite one was the children’s obsession with music and always listening to it together in secret since I like to lose myself in music. I also did find some parts difficult and uncomfortable to read as I am a sensitive person. I believe this read is necessary for that reason; when I felt uncomfortable, I realized the points she was trying to make. If I felt horrible or angry then no doubt Vannicola felt it tenfold and would explain her problematic behavior, which I often got frustrated with. Overall, this book brought me a perspective that I usually find hard to think about.

FYI:

I caution others that there are strong themes of abuse (self or to others), prostitution, sexual references, underage-drinking, and drugs. The author doesn’t hold back detail when it comes to these things.

*This book can be found via Hoopla or through Interlibrary Loan.*

Anni’s Book Pick: The War That Saved My Life

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Summary: Born with a clubfoot nine-year-old Ada Smith suffers not only the frustration and pain to the physical condition but the sting of her mother’s abuse and shame as well.

This book is about a young girl and her brother who live with their mother. The mother is abusive and ashamed of her daughter due to a club foot. The book starts before the war where we get a glimpse at the horrible life that Ada and Jamie are living. Ada being born with a clubfoot has received her mother’s shame for her whole life sitting at a window to see the world and not allowed to leave the apartment, which is where they live.

As the story goes on Ada and her brother, Jamie, see other young children their age going to the country where they will be safe from bombs. Ada and her brother sneak out one night and go to live in the country. Life in the country was good, almost perfect until their mother arrived.

My Thoughts: I enjoyed this book not only because it was historically accurate, but because it brought the story to real life. When reading this book I felt that I knew Ada and Jamie personally, I think the author did an excellent job relating to the characters in the story. I think this book would be a good book for the whole family because it is friendly and there is no profanity or gruesome scenes.

This story really brought the life of children during the war to life. The story shows the struggles of children and the struggles of parents during these hard times. Ada had to leave her home and even though she really wanted to go out and see the world once she was in the country she really missed being home. Overall this story is a great story for all ages, and it can really help children and parents understand life during World War II.