Synopsis: Escaping gray London in 1972, a beautiful, determined mother takes her daughters, aged 5 and 7, to Morocco in search of adventure, a better life, and maybe love. Hideous Kinky follows two little English girls — the five-year-old narrator and Bea, her seven-year-old sister — as they struggle to establish some semblance of normal life on a trip to Morocco with their hippie mother, Julia. Once in Marrakech, Julia immerses herself in Sufism and her quest for personal fulfillment, while her daughters rebel — the older by trying to recreate her English life, the younger by turning her hopes for a father on a most unlikely candidate.
Plot: This is the story of a eccentric hippy mother who takes her two small children to Morocco, on her own journey of self discovery, and financial instability. (The title does make sense once you read the book, but it really doesn’t before hand).
Form: This is an autobiographical novel, however it reads very much like a memoir with a dash of travel writing thrown in.
What I liked: The story is engaging and the characters are interesting. Along with the narrator there is her mother, (who is a little frustrating), and her older more straight laced sister.
The narrator Bea is a six year old version of the author, this point of view could have been annoying and overly cutesy but it really wasn’t. This is where you can see how truly well written this book is, the narrative voice is true throughout, it really does feel like a child is telling you the story.
This is particularly effective when the narrator gets distracted, or doesn’t fully understand what’s happening. As an adult reader I felt a lot more concerned about certain events and there effects on the children than the narrator was. As the narrative voice is simple, the chapters are short which sets a good pace making it a very quick read.
What I didn’t like: I felt at times like this book was building to a crescendo /high point of tension or drama but it never quite got there. To be honest it was a short pleasant read but I found it quite forgettable.
I would be really interested to read another book by Esther Freud as I really liked how this book was written, even when I wasn’t enthralled with this particular story.
Recommendation: If you enjoy reading memoirs of childhood/life writing or if the subject sounds interesting to you, I would say it might be worth a quick read.
Quote: In this quote Bea wants to climb onto the luggage rack with her sister, ‘I badly wanted to climb up and join her, but I thought it would be safest to stay on the seat in case Mum changed her mind about going home and decided at the last minute to jump off at one of the stations on the way’.
Have you read this book or any others by Esther Freud, what did you think of it?
Synopsis: Once, as a small child, she realizes that her skin is a different color from that of her beloved parents, Jackie Kay embarks on a complicated and humorous journey to treasure the adoptive family that chose her, track down her birth parents—her Scottish Highland mother and Nigerian father—and embrace her unexpected and remarkable life.
Taking the reader from Glasgow to Lagos and beyond, Red Dust Road is revelatory, redemptive, and courageous, unique in its voice and universal in its reach. It is a heart-stopping story of parents and siblings, friends and strangers, belonging and beliefs, biology and destiny, and love.
What’s it about?: This is an unchronological non fiction memoir which details how the poet and writer Jackie Kay found her birth parents.
Jackie Kay was adopted by a couple of Scottish Communists, she has a happy childhood and a good upbringing Although she loves her parents as a child she can’t help fantasizing about what her birth parents might be like/ were they are. When she’s expecting her own child she decides to find out who they really are, this is the story of how through the years she finds them and who they really are.
What I liked: This is a light hearted and funny yet moving book, (usually quite a hard line to walk).
The unchronological nature of the book is a really good device, that a long with the short chapters keeps the pace moving very quickly making it a quite easy read. (I would suggest this book would be great read for a commute, its the sort of book you can pick up for five minutes, put back down and remember where you left off).
What I didn’t: To be honest I can’t pinpoint anything i didn’t really like, but I can’t give it a 4.5 or a 5 rating either. All in all it was a lovely read but it never quite reached excellent, this really makes me want to read more of Jackie Kay’s writing in particular her fiction.
Recommendation: If you know Jackie Kay’s poetry I would definitely recommend this to you,although reading poetry and non fiction is obviously different its very easy to see Jackie Kay’s perspective and in particular her sense of humour.
By the way if you enjoy poetry and are not aware of her work,I would in particular recommend her collection Fiere, especially if you are a fan of Carol Ann Duffy.
I also think if you enjoyed ‘Why be happy when you can be normal?’ by Jeannette Winterson I think you would really enjoy this book, and vice versa.
Have you ever read this book or any other work by Jackie Kay, what did you think of it?
This is a holocaust book which is narrated by a child, I was hoping this book wasn’t going to be like The Boy in the Striped Pajamas….. I was disappointed.
(This is not a spoiler, it’s set up in the first few pages). The premise of this book is that a Jewish child doesn’t know about the holocaust as it is happening because he has been shielded by the Catholic nuns who are looking after him in a Polish orphanage which his parents have hidden him in. Not only does the boy (Felix) not know about the persecutions of Jews he also doesn’t know about Nazi’s, or the German language (he doesn’t even know that’s what they’re called), but he does know the name Adolf Hitler but not who he is. This all felt ridiculous even in a fairly isolated school in occupied Poland there would have been Nazi involvement, lessons and curriculum.
All in all this book frustrated me in the same way that The Boy in the Striped Pajamas frustrated me, it is overly simplistic to the point of patronising and historically inaccurate. I will say however that this book isn’t as bad as The Boy in the Striped Pajamas children who read this book will learn more about the holocaust and there is a lot more character development, which makes it much more moving. (I would suggest kids will learn even more by reading Anne Frank’s Diary, but there we go).
The further the book goes on the more historically accurate and believable the story and characters become but it is quite hard to forget the rather silly beginning.
Basically I wouldn’t recommend it to adult or YA readers, I think if you have even a vague understanding of WWII and the Holocaust this book will be too simplistic historically for you and I don’t think this book is written in a particularly beautiful or original style to make up for that.
I can sum up my feeling of this book in this closing sentence: don’t read this read The Book Thief instead.
Okay, I promise I’m going to stop bugging you, but if you’re into dark fairy tale-esque stories, then I also recommend Sea Change by S.M. Wheeler, which will be out next month. You can find a lengthy excerpt here: tor.com/stories…
Recommending books to me isn’t bugging me I promise, getting book recommendations is kind of my favourite thing in the world. I love a good dark fairytale especially one with sea monsters, its been added to my tbr. Although it might take me a little while to get to it comes out in the UK in July in hardback and I tend to wait a few months so new books go down in price. The synopsis looks really great though :)
Sorry, I hate to butt in on this conversation but I highly recommend Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave. It’s one of my favorite books of this year, most definitely. I posted my essay (er, review) on it earlier today :)
I just checked your review out and it looks so great. I love a bit of sci-fi particularly real world type scifi, and I like the fact it has cool female characters. (It has been officially added to my everlasting list of to-reads.)
Thanks for the recommendation :)
clockwork-serenity replied to your post: Non Spoiler Book Review of Cinder by Marrisa Meyer
I agree with the characters feeling under-developed and I didn’t like that it is a series. I really wanted it to be a rebellion where Cinder got the happy ending, not a long series I have to keep up with. I liked it, but I’m growing tired of trilogies.
Fair enough, I really love one off books but I was fairly okay with this being a series because I haven’t been invested in a good series/trilogy for a while and I hope this will be one I can get behind.
But there definitely seems to be a load of series/trilogies that are really popular at the moment. Are there any series/trilogies you would recommend?
me-myshelf-and-ireplied to your post: me-myshelf-and-i replied to your post: Non Spoiler…
What a relief! I tend to be picky about the romantic aspects of YA novels because, let’s face it, it isn’t always done right. I do value your opinion, so I think I will give this a try. Thank you!
I must admit I don’t read a lot of YA books for exactly that reason.
Thank you very much for saying you value my opinion :D