A busy book week
Because I wasn’t feeling too well last week, I spent more time reading than I have in quite a while. Here’s what was on my reading list.
A Woman in Jerusalem by A.B. Yehoshua is a mystery, of sorts. A woman is killed in a bombing in the streets of Jerusalem and the only identification found with her is a pay stub. The bakery the paycheck was issued from doesn’t realize the woman is missing until a tabloid newspaper writes an article about its inhumanity. In order to preserve the company’s good name, the owner requires the human resource manager to track down the woman’s name, her family, and how she could be missing without the company realizing it. This task begins the journey the human resource manager (whose name we never learn) undertakes to prove the bakery is not accountable for this dead woman, all the while being the only person responsible for her.
I enjoyed this book, though at times the translation from Hebrew didn’t quite come across as well as it should have. There are definitely political undertones throughout, but this is far from a political book. It is a book about humanity though, and by the end, you can decide if the characters have done the right thing ~ or perhaps what the right thing even is.
Kathryn Stockett’s The Help is set during the Civil Rights Movement and follows the lives of three women – Miss Skeeter, Aibilene, and Minny. Miss Skeeter, a young college graduate, is hoping to write a book describing the experiences, good and bad, of the “colored” maids in her town. In spite of the risk and the racial unrest in the 60s, Aibilene and Minny reluctantly agree to help her. The story follows their meetings, their stories, and the lives of those around them, as well as the repercussions of their project.
I don’t want to go into the plot too much so I don’t give anything away if you want to read it. I have to say I have mixed feelings about the book. On the one hand, I had a hard time putting it down. I especially loved Minny and wanted to keep reading to find out what was going to happen next. On the other hand, I found some parts to be totally unnecessary and the whole thing to be a bit contrived. I’m not saying I didn’t like it. I know I’d recommend it to my mom in a minute, but I guess I just thought it was an okay book. I’m sure lots and lots of people would disagree with me – I’ve read reviews on blogs where people said it was the best book they’ve ever read. But for me? Not so much.
The Marriage Bureau for Rich People is a debut novel by Farahad Zama. Mr. Ali opens a marriage bureau at his home in India, and throughout the story, we meet all manner of folks who are looking for a suitable match for someone. I felt like I was given a glimpse of tradition and culture in modern-day India, from sari shops to food to weddings. There are also some underlying social themes concerning traditional vs. modern values, politics, tolerance, and respect. The character development wasn’t all that strong, but the story was light and sometimes amusing, and definitely enjoyable. I’d read that this could become a series, so we might get to see more of Mr. and Mrs. Ali and the marriage bureau.