Tag: To Kill a Mockingbird

Ralph Ellison – Invisible Man | Review

Title: Invisible Man

Author: Ralph Ellison

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 478

Rating: 3/5

Okay, first thing’s first – don’t get this confused with the H. G. Wells novel, as apparently some people do. There was no chance of that here because I’ve already read the Wells novel and I’ve also already come across Ralph Ellison, and so I’d been looking forward to getting to this one.

Unfortunately, I just didn’t really engage with it. It’s not as though there’s anything wrong with it, although it’s perhaps a tad overwritten here and there and it’s definitely way longer than it really needed to be. It gets its point across, but it gets its point across pretty early and then just keeps on reinforcing it.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate this book for what it is, and it was definitely an important milestone in modern literature, especially in America. It does a great job of portraying the African American experience and shining a light on it from a different angle. It’s just that it isn’t particularly accessible, especially to a modern reader. Or maybe that’s just because I’m a white British dude.

I suppose I was just hoping for something like To Kill a Mockingbird, and while this does cover a lot of similar societal issues, this leans too heavily on the message and doesn’t leave the reader any room to arrive at their own interpretation. It’s sort of clunkily done, and it doesn’t have the engaging core story line that Harper Lee had.

And here we arrive at my biggest problem with this book, and that’s that I just don’t have anything else to say about it. This poses a challenge, because each of my reviews has the same word count as the book has pages, and so I’m going to have to bulk this one out a bit. Sorry about that – but on the plus side, we only have 150 words to go.

I think what it all comes down to is that I had high expectations for this one and then it just didn’t quite deliver. It’s one of those contemporary modern classics that I’ve heard a lot about, and I’d been feeling bad because I hadn’t got to it. Then I picked it up and felt glad that I’d left it as long as I did.

So it’s not that it isn’t worth reading, it’s just that it’s definitely not for everyone and it also feels like a product of its time. If you can get over that then I’m sure that you’re in for a lovely old time, but it just wasn’t for me. It failed to grab my attention from the outset, and even if it had managed to redeem itself, I would have got bored again anyway. So maybe skip this one unless you have to study it.

Learn more about Invisible Man.

 


Robin Talley – Our Own Private Universe | Review

Title: Our Own Private Universe

Author: Robin Talley

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 384

Rating: 4*/5

 

Robin Talley - Our Own Private Universe

Robin Talley – Our Own Private Universe

 

Disclaimer: While I aim to be unbiased, I received a copy of this for free to review.

This book was an unusual read for me, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying it. People talk a lot about diversity in reading, and this would definitely count as a ‘diversebook – even though I hate that term, because diversity should encompass everything anyway. The main character is a bisexual, African-American Christian girl, and I’m none of those things.

But actually, I really enjoyed it, and I can see why it was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal. It’s sort of like a modern day mix between To Kill a Mockingbird and The Catcher in the Rye, insofar as the protagonist is a teenager who’s trying to find herself. But while Holden Caulfield was a bit of a dick, Aki Simon is a nice girl – sure, she’s a bit naive and a little misguided, but her heart’s in the right place and she’s passionate about the world around her, as well as the day-to-day problems that she has to deal with in her own life.

And that, right there, is how I could relate to her. Aki feels like she’s living a lie, because she’s too afraid to be open with her friends and family about something that’s important to her, and I think we’ve all had our little secrets – I don’t think there’s a person in the world doesn’t know something that they don’t want their friends and family to know. It’s only natural, and Talley uses the book to explore both the little secrets and lies that we all seem to tell without realising it, as well as what sexual identity means to a young woman who thinks she’s bisexual but has never had a chance to confirm it.

Overall, I thought it was a cracking little read, although most people of my demographic would struggle to get into it. But if you’re a young adult – and an LGBTQ young adult or a young woman in particular – then it’s definitely worth a read. Note, though, that there are a couple of sex scenes that are inappropriate for young young adults. But yeah!

 

Robin Talley

Robin Talley

 

Click here to buy Our Own Private Universe.