Thursday, April 7, 2016

Book Review: Olivia, Mourning by Yael Politis

by M. J. Joachim

At a time when the pros and cons of slavery were still being debated, western civilization was nothing less than the wild, wild west and the great United States of America was about half to a third of the size it is now, Olivia, a “proper young white woman” and Mourning, a “freed black slave” set off on a journey to claim a piece of property Olivia’s uncle had left her when he died.

The tale was rich and beautifully told, respecting all manners of proper growth and stages people go through, as they face the great unknown together, doing their best not to draw attention for disapproving eyes around them. The journey was completely innocent, though as time passed, it definitely exposed how true love can be colorblind. This was a love story in the making, that took a sudden distasteful turn, when holier than thou neighbors decided to use the Bible to their benefit, excusing their own wretched sinfulness, in an effort to convert Olivia, or at least use her to their advantage, while they were the most vile and accursed people in the land. At least that’s how I readily describe people who would do the types of things these people did.

Anyway, it was awful and when this book took its turn, away from the masterfully told love story that conquered anything that might divide it, I was left wondering why, and I felt cheated somehow. There was so much to be gained from the simplicity of the story that was already in the making, a story which was completely abandoned for the grotesque tale of two hideous people who took full advantage of a young girl trying to forge a life for herself in the great unknown.

On one hand, I can see how and why Politis did this. On the other, I started finishing the original love story in my own mind. There was a lack of consistency, as the writer reached far beyond the bounds of common sense to tell the story that unfolded, and I simply didn’t care for it nearly as much as I would have, should the story have continued on its main road, providing all the controversy and divisions bound to happen in that story. There was no need for such exaggerated tales of horror and survival.

Of course, then this book had the cliff hanger, and I all but threw my tablet on the floor. Of course there was a need for all the previous stuff. How else could you take one simple story and turn it into a series of two or three books? I like my own story better, so I probably won’t be inclined to see what happens next. I felt a little cheated by this one, even though I liked the story overall, even the new one that didn’t fit with the one I thought should be told. I’m sure some people will really enjoy this book and whichever ones follow it, hanging on the author’s every word. I’m just not one of those people.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Happy reading everyone.

M. J.

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