Tag Archives: #book review

Slavery, sacrifice inspires haunting novel

Spoiler alert, this entire novel is about a dead baby and then the angry ghost of that dead baby, which sounds a bit ridiculous as the premise of a novel, but in reality Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” is an extremely emotional and serious novel about the impact of slavery.

“Beloved” follows the story of Sethe, an ex-slave that escaped to the North to live with her children, many years after the move.

Living with her youngest daughter, Denver, in a house haunted by the spirit of Sethe’s first daughter, the spirit makes the walls shake, items break, and has driven Sethe’s sons from the home.

Suddenly, however, the spirit stops its episodes within the house and very soon after, a young woman, named Beloved, shows up at Sethe’s home.

Sethe takes the girl in and begins treating Beloved as her own.

Sethe’s past is told through a series of flashbacks. After the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, Sethe’s previous and sadistic owner arrives in the North to reclaim her and her children. Rather than have her babies live a life of forced servitude, Sethe decides to take their lives, along with her own, instead.

When Sethe’s owner finds her holding the corpse of her young daughter, he decides to give up and let her be in the North.

A huge question surrounding “Beloved” is if Sethe’s actions, taking the life of her child, were justifiable given the circumstances?

The character of Sethe is very complicated because Sethe is not so much a person, but rather a vessel that serves others. As a slave, Sethe was fully a slave and did nothing for herself and could not develop her own sense of self and then she went from slavery straight into motherhood, where she threw herself into taking care of her children.

Her entire post-slave life was about her family and she focused her energy on their development rather than her own.

Toni Morrison based the novel off of a real ex-slave, Margaret Garner, who killed her own daughter in order to save her from slavery.

The novel can be a difficult read for sensitive souls because it is plagued with scenes and mentions of sexual assault, which is not a huge surprise because it is a novel about a slave woman.

It should be common knowledge to anyone that does not believe the fairytales told to them in high school American history that people, especially slave owners, are/were generally awful people and liked to rape people they thought were lesser than them, which is probably why nine out of 10 rape victims are women.

Paige Jurgensen / Columnist

Paige         Jurgensen               can          be            reached   at             linfieldreviewculture@gmail.com

 

Marvel unmaskes super hero storylines

Marvel comics’ “Civil War” series, originally released in seven issues, but now available in one trade back graphic novel, furthers the story of the world’s favorite superheroes.

After a group of mediocre “heroes” go out on a crime stopping spree and accidently blow themselves up along with an elementary school, the government pushed to unmask all heroes. The heroes are then forced to take sides, to either register themselves and continue on with their crime fighting while being meticulously monitored by Uncle Sam or to remain an enigma to the public, but become the criminals, at least legally, themselves.

Fighting for the registration initiative is Tony Stark, commonly known as Iron Man, and on the opposing side is Captain America. These two characters are the obvious leaders for their cause; Tony Stark has never been afraid to show himself as Iron Man while Captain America is fighting for the freedom of superheroes to stay anonymous.

Nearly any given Marvel hero is included in the story, including Spider-Man, the X-men, Hulk, etc. As the registration battle goes on, a full on war erupts between the two groups, leaving the reader to wonder not only who will win, but who should win?

Mark Millar, the author of “Civil War,” created a comic where there is no real “villain.” Each reader has their own opinion on the matter, but what they think is just that: an opinion. There is no true villain in an opinion, and if one is suggested, it should not be taken as a fact.

“Civil War” is definitely a storyline for adults, given that it is based on a lot of different political issues. The story is more than just one-liners and silly costumes, but rather it reflects the government and its flaws. Millar, stating it the best, said about his story, “the political allegory is only for those that are politically aware, kids are going to read it and just see a big superhero fight.”

Hollywood rumor has it that after a few more Avengers-based films, the studio will pursue a “Civil War” film, which I think, personally, would  be the best thing ever. But, to be honest, I kind of just always want to watch Chris Hemsworth (Thor) run around in tight pants with a hammer, regardless of what he’s actually doing.

A glorious thing about the “Civil War” series is that it can be read in addition to the Marvel storyline or simply as a stand-alone story. However, as a general warning to the public, once this story is read, the reader will want to continue reading Marvel comics. “Civil War” is basically a comic book gateway drug.

 

Paige       Jurgensen               can          be            reached   at             linfieldreviewculture@gmail.com

Paige Jurgensen / Columnist

Star-crossed lovers are strangely related

Emily Bronte’s 1847 novel, “Wuthering Heights”, was an extremely scandalous but popular during the nineteenth century. Since its original publication it has remained a constant favorite among literary lovers, and for obvious reasons.

The beginning of the novel centers itself around the relationship of Cathy, a high spirited young woman, and her adopted brother, Heathcliff, a brooding figure who only has eyes for Cathy.

The two spend their childhood and early adolescence together, running through the moors of England with all the freedom in the world.

However, after an incident that left Cathy injured, Heathcliff is separated from her for a bit, and while away Cathy is transformed into a proper lady, meets a gentleman named Edgar Linton, and upon her arrival home her relationship with Heathcliff is strained.

The second part of the novel focuses on the story of Catherine Linton, the daughter of Cathy, and her own struggles when she finds herself in the grasps of her desolate and jaded uncle, Heathcliff.

A personal critique of the novel is that, assumedly, the audience is supposed to love Heathcliff in the beginning of the novel; we are supposed to see him as the wayward hero that cannot seem to win, but he is not.

Heathcliff is a madman that is supposed to be worthy of the audience’s love because he loved Cathy, but just because he loved her does not mean he deserved her.

“Wuthering Heights” often gives that same misinterpretation that the film “500 Days of Summer” does, and that is that if a guy pursues a woman enough, clearly he deserves her and that the woman is wrong for not wanting him back, or at least not actually taking him.

Quite honestly, Heathcliff, after he believes that he has lost Cathy, is nothing more than a moody teenager that cries victim to the “friendzone.”

Other than the novels then-risqué material, “Wuthering Heights” was also shocking for its author, Emily Bronte.

Bronte pursued publication after her sister, Charlotte Bronte, had successfully published “Jane Eyre.”

However, due to her sex, Emily Bronte had to publish under the name Ellis Bell.

Unfortunately, Bronte never went on to write another novel because she died the following year.

As her brother had just passed away, it is said that Bronte died of a broken heart (along with the unsanitary conditions she lived in), which, for those of us who have read “Wuthering Heights”, is terribly ironic.

Paige Jurgensen / Columnist

Paige       Jurgensen               can          be            reached   at             linfieldreviewculture@gmail.com

 

‘Habibi’ reveals harsh reality of sex crimes

Paige Jurgensen / Columnist

 Love is one of those things that no one will ever really understand until they experience it, and even then there are many different types of love: parental, friendship, romantic, etc. Love, just like any other emotion, can grow or fade or change the type of love it once was. Craig Thompson’s graphic novel, “Habibi,” explores several types of love.

The graphic novel is stories from the “Quran” mixed in with the main narration about the heroine of the novel, Dodola, a young woman living in an Islamic culture. Dodola’s story begins with her being married off, as a young child, to an older merchant and with him, experiences her first sexual assault.

Eventually, however, she is taken in order to be sold into, presumably, sex slavery. Dodola manages to escape her captures and take along with her additional commodity: a baby boy that she names Zam. Together, they venture into the desert and live in hiding.

Dodola learns pretty early on that she has something worth trading for necessary goods: herself. Even though Dodola is barely a teenager, she begins using her body to seduce and rob traveling merchants. Dodola does these things all because she is trying her best to provide for Zam, and raise him like her own son.

As Zam grows older, he tries to take on more responsibility and begins selling water to nearby villages in the hopes that Dodola, whom he has begun to have sexual feelings about, will not have to trade herself anymore.

Unfortunately, while the duo is away from their trusty hiding spot, Dodola is taken to a sultan, who is determined to get his hands on the “Phantom courtesan of the desert.”

The entire novel is consistent with graphic sexual events and themes and although Thompson did not write the novel to degrade women, presumably, what he did was arguably just as bad. Dodola’s body, from the beginning of the novel to the end, is romanticized into something unfathomably special and perhaps even magical.

Vaginas are not magic and they cannot cure the sick or cause the sky to bring forth rain. Thompson did not portray his female characters as humans, but rather mystifies women’s bodies throughout his work.

In addition, Thompson also criminalized 99 percent of his male characters, with the heroic 1 percent mostly being eunuchs.

Despite Thompson’s fundamental misunderstanding of gender and sexuality, the novel has beautiful story between Dodola and Zam with the message that not all love is sexual and not all love is the same and that we as humans should just appreciate the pure beauty of healthy relationships.

Paige       Jurgensen               can          be            reached   at             linfieldreviewculture@gmail.com

Novel portrays 19th century love-sick teen

Just as John Green writes novels for, and about, sad and love-sick teens in the modern age, Jane Austen wrote for, and about, the English high society. Her 1815 novel, “Emma” is no exception.

Emma Woodhouse is the prettiest, richest, and vainest woman in Highbury, a village in Surrey.

She is determined to play matchmaker to those around her because she believes that in doing so, she is being charitable to the lonely.

When her governess marries and leaves her, Emma finds a new project to bide her time with: Charlotte Smith.

Emma views Charlotte as a downtrodden and awkward woman that Emma wants desperately to transform into a proper lady, despite Charlotte’s social status and the advice of her friend and brother-in-law, Mr. Knightley.

During her training of Charlotte, Emma begins to look at the men around her and begins to wonder if she will find love and, specifically, with who.

The entire novel focuses on the relationships of the people in and around, Emma’s social class. “Emma” is a classic example of a romantic comedy, although Emma often believes she knows everything about everyone’s relationships, when in all actuality, knows nothing.

“Emma” is an excellent read, just as any Jane Austen novel is, and only contains one unlikeable character: Emma.

Although Emma is the title character, she is just plain insufferable, through no fault of her own. It is rumored that Jane Austen set out to write a novel about an unlikeable main character, which she definitely succeeded in.

Perhaps Emma’s proper, and mildly condescending character, was better received in the nineteenth century. Emma Woodhouse, in the modern day, would probably be a more polite version of Paris Hilton.

However, characters like Charlotte, the dashing Mr. Knightley, and the charming Mr. Churchill round out Austen’s literary world.

Everyone should read at least one Jane Austen novel during their lifetimes because, for one, people will assume you’re super classy if they hear you dropping some Jane Austen knowledge and two, Austen’s society so greatly contrasts our own that it is just fascinating to read about a world that focuses on silly things, like match making and fancy dinner parties.

“Emma” has been adapted into two feature films, a 1996 movie of the same title starring Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma, which was nominated for two Academy Awards. Also, in the 1995 movie “Clueless,” starring Alicia Silverstone as a modern day matchmaker with very little sense about her.

Paige Jurgensen / Columnist \

Paige Jurgensen can be reached at linfieldreviewculture@gmail.com