Each month the Front Porch prints book reviews, rotating to a different Northeast Denver library or book store each month. This month, reviews are by members and volunteers at the Park Hill Community Bookstore.
The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
Review by Jackson Turnacliffe
In The Buddha in the Attic, Julie Otsuka uses unusual literary devices to tell the stories of “picture brides” sent to male Japanese immigrants in early twentieth century California. Through repetition, cadence, and rhythm, she collectively follows these young Japanese women from their various rural and urban origins over a 50-year period as they meet their new husbands, encounter a new culture (mostly indifferent to them; sometimes hostile), and raise their children, who become strangers to them as they assimilate into mainstream American culture. This is an enlightening and affecting account of the non-European immigrant experience. (Published in 2011 and winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award For Fiction.)
Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky
Review by Sandra Niemi
This is a small book about the cod and its role in world history over the past 1,000 years. The Vikings ate dried cod on their long voyages. The Basque discovered the best cod fishing grounds off what is now Newfoundland, keeping the location secret for several centuries. By 1550, sixty percent of all fish eaten in Europe was cod. The lowly cod, salted and dried, provided food for long voyages of exploration, fed soldiers in numerous wars, and built great wealth for individuals and nations. Salt cod fed the Union Army during the Civil War. Sadly, it also helped perpetuate the slave trade. Cod fishing spurred the use of new technology such as steam-powered ships and frozen foods.
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Review by Bettina Basanow
I was somewhat reluctant to read Middlemarch and find out anything about George Eliot. I was pushed into the book by my very intellectual fellow book club members. This book is very long (800 pages). Due to a long vacation and much time to read, I managed to finish in three weeks. Middlemarch deals with the residents of the town, and I found out that Eliot was very good at making me understand what went on 180 years ago in England. Much to my amazement, it is very contemporaneous, with the characters easy to empathize with. What I really loved about some of the women is that they already had an understanding of their plight as females. Dorothea (one of the main characters) was interested in the suffering of the tenants at her uncle’s land. I highly recommend this book.
Young Adult Fiction
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Review by Jade Farrar, 10, and grandmother Pam
Greg Heffley and his best buddy Rowley really really want to be popular in middle school. Greg has a big brother named Rodrick who loves to get him in trouble and his baby brother Manny is a brat. His family is messy and funny. Greg thinks being popular in school will solve all his problems. Greg thinks he is more popular than Rowley who likes dorky clothes and does weird things that get them into more trouble. They have all kinds of horrible situations they have to figure out, and they do, sort of, in crazy and very funny ways.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid was so great it was made into a movie. It is the first book in the Wimpy Kid series. If you like this book there are eight more! And more movies too.