LitPicks Book Reviews—October 2014

Theme—Strangers in Their Own Land
This month's book take a look those who through racism, misogyny, or maltreatment are excluded from the full rights and comforts of their own culture.
They're aliens in their own land.
 
Labels: A Lighter Touch

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The Mountaintop School for Dogs And Other Second Chances
Ellen Cooney, 2014
304 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
October, 2014
It's been done before—so many times, in fact, that we know the outcome of this book from the get-go. But it doesn't matter because of the pure pleasure derived from Ellen Cooney's charming story of dogs and people—a tale in which healing one leads to healing the other.

The action takes place in a single locale: an isolated mountaintop refuge, known as the Sanctuary, which takes in dogs rescued from inhumane conditions. Traumatized, unfit for adoption, and at the tail end of their journey toward euthanasia, the dogs are given a second chance for rehabilitation—and life.

 

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The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan
Jenny Nordberg, 2014
368 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
October, 2014
With ISIS making such lurid headlines, it's hard to think there's anything left with the power to shock. Nonetheless, Nordberg's superb but chilling account of the treatment of women in Afghanistan has left me stunned.

Aside from female oppression, the real subject of her book has to be one of the oddest I've ever encountered: families passing daughters off as boys—a widespread but officially unacknowledged practice known as bacha posh. Strange, yes, but given the culture, it makes all the sense in the world, or at least the Afghan world.

 
Labels: Great Works

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Invisible Man
Ralph Ellison, 1952
581 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
October, 2014

One of the great American coming-of-age novels, Ellison's Invisible Man is the story of a young black man struggling to find his identity in white society.

The book was an immediate standout—critics and readers loved (and still do) it's rich variety of prose styles, its humor, imagery, and symbols. Yet its portrait of America is hardly flattering. The book was one of the first fictional works, and perhaps most widely read, to focus attention on the country's virulent racism—without the consoling sentimentality of an Uncle Tom's Cabin.

 

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