- Fizzy Thoughts: Sky Dancer and People of the Book

Sky Dancer and People of the Book

Sunday, January 13, 2008

This week I finished two books. First up...

Sky Dancer
Witi Ihimaera
350 pages

This book was my choice for Natives Peoples author for the Expanding Horizons Challenge. It was better than my first choice, Twinkle, Twinkle, but overall, I thought it was just okay. I enjoyed the premise, but got bogged down in the seemingly never-ending lists of birds and battle details.

The story centers around Skylark O'Shea, a young woman who is on holiday in Tuapa (New Zealand) with her mother. They rent a house from two elderly Maori women, Hoki and Bella. When the valley they are staying in is beset by seabirds, Hoki tries to tell Skylark of old legends and a prophesy that indicates Skylark will be their savior. Initially, Skylark is having none of it, but she eventually agrees to go on a quest to learn more. As Skylark reluctantly travels with her protector Arnie, she begins to believe in the quest and the threat, and to also relax her defensive demeanor.

If you ever saw the movie Whale Rider, this is the same author. While it was interesting to read a book that weaves in Maori legend, this book certainly didn't pack the same punch that Whale Rider (the movie at least, I never read the book) did.

After finishing this next book, I understand the cover (it's a butterfly), but I still don't think the cover does it justice. After all, the book is about an illuminated manuscript.

People of the Book
Geraldine Brooks
384 pages

Really, I'm trying to cut back on the book buying and focus on reading the books I already have. But I was in Borders last week, and I saw the title of this book...and how could I not buy a book about a book?

First, let me confess that I didn't read March. I had no interest and no intention of ever reading it. But now...I might just change my mind. People of the Book is an engaging book, although towards the end I was having a bit of difficulty keeping it all straight in my head.

This is the fictional story of a real book, the Sarajevo haggadah (the story of Jewish liberation from slavery in Egypt, told during Passover). In Brooks' story, Hanna Heath is a book conservator/restorer/analyst, hired to do repairs on the Sarajevo haggadah. As she works on the book, she finds a white hair, salt, a wine stain and insect wings. As she learns more about each item, the book moves forward and backward in time, revealing the story of how each item came to be in the book. In the end, the individual stories were more compelling than Hanna's. Hanna's own problems are interwoven with the history of the haggadah, and while her story was interesting, at the end it got muddled. However, not so muddled that I didn't straighten it out and still enjoy the book.

2 comment(s):

Melissa said...

The movie Whale Rider is better than the book, at least in my opinion. I saw the movie first, and loved it, so that may have influenced my decision. Even so, I think Sky Dancer sounds interesting (even if it is bogged down with birds).

As for Geraldine Brooks, I liked her first one (the plague one of which I can't remember the title now) but March was only so-so (I started it but abandoned it), again IMHO. This one sounds like it could be interesting, though.

Francesca (Scribacchina) said...

Both sound nice to me. Thanks for the reviews.

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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