Thursday, June 8, 2017

Week of Reading Contrasts

A simple truth: Reading always teaches. What it teaches is a separate inquiry.

This week the pages of two books filled my brain.  Both were book club selections.

The first, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, surpassed the first obstacle of "Oh, here's another book dealing with World War II." Spoiler alert: The hype that this was a "love story" between a French blind girl and a young German Hitler youth doesn't pan out.

The back-and-forth juxtaposition of their two lives transcends. The rich detail of their lives driven home by strong verbs. The horrors of war sketched without becoming all consuming. What is captivating is the inner drives and obstacles of multiple characters brought together by a jewel that strings out the novel's suspense.

The second, Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea, mounted page-after-page of disappointment for its tale of Mexican illegals on a "quest" to recruit men who had crossed the border to return to a Mexican village to protect it against banditos. Billed as a comedy, there was an absence of laughs and many attempts to use crude, boorish, and bathroom references to create humor.

The plot was shallow. Clich├ęs abounded. There were stereotypical characters.

Better one read The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande for a better factual and emotional understanding of illegal immigration along the United States southern border.