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In the foreground of Abigail is a Hungarian girl trying to fit in in a fortress-like boarding school during WWII. She's not used to a severe or devout life and quickly makes enemies among her classmates. She struggles to answer questions like, "How can I get the other girls to like me?" But she has other questions too: Why did her father send her there? Why is she forbidden communication with the outside world? What is her father's role in the war? My first question was, since the girl's name is Gina, who is Abigail?
This is one of those novels that gnaws at you long after you've put it down. Taking place in India during the 1975 State of Emergency, it follows four characters struggling for independence and security. They manage to form a rag-tag family to support each other in extremely tenuous circumstances. But the bottom keeps falling out, and every time you think things can't get worse they do. Yet somehow the characters carry on--"You have to maintain a fine balance between hope and despair." It's also a page-turner!
If you want a good time, look no further. This truly is an incredible adventure! Twenty-eight explorers bound for Antarctica in 1915 get trapped on an ice floe without a ship or any hope of rescue. Based on interviews and crew members' diaries, Lansing presents this story of survival with fully fleshed characters (like the stowaway with his cat) and details (like the raw skin they all had at the ends of their noses from icicles forming and breaking off) that feels like fiction but is amazingly real. After reading this book I wanted to immediately start over at the beginning--it's that good.
I was not prepared for how much fun I'd have reading this. The form was way more interesting than I expected, and I was completely sucked into the story. Now I need to watch all the movies to sustain this creepy headspace.
Strange and haunting, Shapton is back at her game combining images and text in evocative ways. One chapter is filled with pictures of empty beds while another tells the story of a tennis prodigy's unrealized dream. As loose as some of the threads become, every chapter harkens back to the title with an underlying yet palpable suggestion that we all live with ghosts of some kind.
Growing up under the threat of Hutu violence in Rwanda, Mukasonga, the only survivor from her family, wrote this memoir as a tribute to her mother. Mukasonga shows us daily life as a displaced Tutsi, especially in women's spaces and roles. As readers, we get to be vessels for other people's stories and can keep them alive, even if only through memory. I treasure the opportunity to read Mukasonga's beautiful prose and, if in the tiniest of ways, honor a way of life that's all but gone.