Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

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source: free copy via AmazonVine
title: Under the Udala Trees
author: Chinelo Okparanta
published: September 22, 2015
pages: 328
rated: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars
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blurb:
Inspired by Nigeria’s folktales and its war, Under the Udala Trees is a deeply searching, powerful debut about the dangers of living and loving openly.

Ijeoma comes of age as her nation does; born before independence, she is eleven when civil war breaks out in the young republic of Nigeria. Sent away to safety, she meets another displaced child and they, star-crossed, fall in love. They are from different ethnic communities. They are also both girls.

When their love is discovered, Ijeoma learns that she will have to hide this part of herself. But there is a cost to living inside a lie.

As Edwidge Danticat has made personal the legacy of Haiti’s political coming of age, Okparanta’s Under the Udala Trees uses one woman’s lifetime to examine the ways in which Nigerians continue to struggle toward selfhood. Even as their nation contends with and recovers from the effects of war and division, Nigerian lives are also wrecked and lost from taboo and prejudice. This story offers a glimmer of hope — a future where a woman might just be able to shape her life around truth and love.

my thoughts:
Narrated by Ijeoma, Under the Udala Trees starts off when she is just eleven years old and living in the war ridden republic of Nigeria in the late 1960’s.
When Ijeoma’s father is killed in an air bombing, her mother is left grief ridden and depressed, barely able to care for herself let alone her daughter. She sends Ijeoma off to live with a couple in another village. Ijeoma lives there almost two years before her mother comes back to get her. What she finds in this village is a friendship and eventually romantic feelings for a girl named Amina.

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Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

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source: purchased
title: Flowers In The Attic (Dollanganger Book 1)
author: V.C. Andrews
genre: Gothic fiction/YA fiction/Classic
published: 1979
pages: 359
first line: It is so appropriate to color hope yellow, like that sun we seldom saw.
rated: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars for being entertaining and twisted
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Blurb:
A major Lifetime movie event—the novel that captured the world’s imagination and earned V.C. Andrews a fiercely devoted fanbase. Book One of the Dollanganger Family series.

At the top of the stairs there are four secrets hidden. Blond, beautiful, innocent, and struggling to stay alive…

They were a perfect family, golden and carefree—until a heartbreaking tragedy shattered their happiness. Now, for the sake of an inheritance that will ensure their future, the children must be hidden away out of sight, as if they never existed. Kept on the top floor of their grandmother’s vast mansion, their loving mother assures them it will be just for a little while. But as brutal days swell into agonizing months and years, Cathy, Chris, and twins Cory and Carrie realize their survival is at the mercy of their cruel and superstitious grandmother…and this cramped and helpless world may be the only one they ever know.

Book One of the Dollanganger series, followed by Petals in the Wind, If There be Thorns, Seeds of Yesterday, and Garden of Shadows.

My thoughts:
(minor spoilers)

Flowers In The Attic is a blast from the past for me. I remember seeing the 1987 film version as a tween and I read this book and the second in series, Petals on the Wind when I was pregnant with my son. He’s twenty now, so it has been a while since I revisited this series.

I have been on a trend lately, with reading books published in the 70’s like Stephen King’s Carrie, I think I will keep that up. I like the nostalgic vibe to these stories. Continue reading

Carrie by Stephen King

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source: personal copy/purchased
title: Carrie
author: Stephen King
published: April 5, 1974
genre: horror
pages: 290
rated: 5 out of 5 stars
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blurb:
Stephen King’s legendary debut, about a teenage outcast and the revenge she enacts on her classmates.

Carrie White may have been unfashionable and unpopular, but she had a gift. Carrie could make things move by concentrating on them. A candle would fall. A door would lock. This was her power and her sin. Then, an act of kindness, as spontaneous as the vicious taunts of her classmates, offered Carrie a chance to be a normal and go to her senior prom. But another act–of ferocious cruelty–turned her gift into a weapon of horror and destruction that her classmates would never forget.

my thoughts:

Carrie is Stephen King’s first published book. At the heart of this dismal and terrifying epistolary novel, is a teenager named Carrietta White, who has had the odds stacked against her from day one. There are flashbacks as we read character interviews and statements about the infamous Carrie, her mother, fellow classmates and prom night.

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Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

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source: purchased
title: Warm Bodies
author: Isaac Marion
genre: young adult fiction/ humor/ zombie fiction
published: December 25, 2012
pages: 239
first line: I am dead, but it’s not so bad.
rated: 4 out of 5 stars
Fun, quirky and unique.
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Blurb:
R is having a no-life crisis—he is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he is a little different from his fellow Dead. He may occasionally eat people, but he’d rather be riding abandoned airport escalators, listening to Sinatra in the cozy 747 he calls home, or collecting souvenirs from the ruins of civilization.

And then he meets a girl.

First as his captive, then his reluctant house guest, Julie is a blast of living color in R’s gray landscape, and something inside him begins to bloom. He doesn’t want to eat this girl—although she looks delicious—he wants to protect her. But their unlikely bond will cause ripples they can’t imagine, and their hopeless world won’t change without a fight.

My thoughts:
On my daughter’s recommendation, last month I read Warm Bodies as part of the 24 Hour Read-a-Thon. Author Isaac Marion writes a refreshing take on zombies.
This one is kind of like Romeo & Juliet, except R is a zombie guy and Julie is still alive. We get the story through his eyes. R does not remember his name or his age, or anything really before he died. In a world where the dead walk and the living are trying to stay alive, R comes across Julie one day while out looking for food.

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