Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Books I've Loved: Out of Darkness
I finished this one over the weekend, and boy oh boy was it good! Well, not entirely true. For a while there, in the middle, I felt like it was going nowhere and I wondered why we were lingering on what seemed to be the minutiae of everyday life. But then it all became clear....
I've been on something of a historical fiction binge recently for some reason, and this one, like the others, has a strong female at the center. A strong female who isn't treated very well by some of the men around her. And some of the women too.
Naomi is Mexican and too white to fit in with the black community she stumbles upon, but too brown to be comfortable in the white community she's supposed to embrace. And when people begin to suspect that this nice, dutiful black-haired girl might be fraternizing with a boy from the wrong side of the tracks, a boy whose family has ambitions above their station, you just know something terrible is going to happen.
Just how terrible I never expected.
This is a beautifully written book with short sections from a number of characters' POV. I really enjoyed seeing the story from all these different perspectives, including at times some characters just called 'the gang' who are so far outside the core group of characters, their perspective seems unnecessary at first. But their presence, like everything else, is there for a reason.
The craft in this book is unbelievable. No action doesn't have a repercussion later on. No words are spoken that don't come back to haunt someone. It takes time for everything to become clear, and how devilishly clever the book really is, but if you persevere, it's well worth the trip.
If you don't believe me, here's the blurb:
“This is East Texas, and there’s lines. Lines you cross, lines you don’t cross. That clear?”
New London, Texas. 1937. Naomi Vargas and Wash Fuller know about the lines in East Texas as well as anyone. They know the signs that mark them.
“No Negroes, Mexicans, or dogs.”
They know the people who enforce them.
“They all decided they’d ride out in their sheets and pay Blue a visit.”
But sometimes the attraction between two people is so powerful it breaks through even the most entrenched color lines. And the consequences can be explosive.
“More than grief, more than anger, there is a need. Someone to blame. Someone to make pay.”
Ashley Hope Pérez takes the facts of the 1937 New London school explosion—the worst school disaster in American history—as a backdrop for a riveting novel about segregation, love, family, and the forces that destroy people.