This was on my to-read list ever since one of my favorite book bloggers said that it reminded her of East of Eden and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, both of which are my jam. Now that I’ve read it I can bestow my confirmation on such a high claim. It’s a multi-generational family saga of immigrants, starting around the 1870’s and following them over the next century. Those kind of books really work for me even though their format can be so different from one another.
This one is a pretty straightforward history-telling. No jumping around in time or changing of narrators or any other tactics like that. The sentences are short and to the point. There are some heartbreaking parts and a lot of people die, but it does span a century so that’s probably going to happen. Big historical events take place in the background but the focus is always on the family. There is a huge theme of home and what that means, which hits my heart just right. Lots of happy things happen, too, and more than anything it left me with a sense of hope.
I think the only drawback to the story might be that as time went on and more and more children were born and thus more and more characters introduced I started losing my connection to them. I was really tied up in the lives of the matriarch and patriarch along with their children & Lomax, the family friend. I became the most emotional over events happening to them, which was probably two-thirds of the book. After that it was harder to keep track and connect, so by the time we met our narrator (one of the grandchildren) I didn’t even care about his fate as much as I probably should have. Still, the last third of it was enjoyable and kept with the same themes so it did flow naturally.
Also, I love it even more knowing that the author spent seven years writing it in the mornings at 5 a.m. before his day job as an attorney. I obviously relate to this method of squeezing in creative time, and for him to have produced something this lovely deserves high praise.
More discussion over here!
I read this book as a part of BlogHer Book Club and while I was compensated for my review as well as provided a free copy of the book, all opinions expressed are my own.