Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Few Notes On Amaryllis in Blueberry

Wow.  That was one heck of a story.  At first I had a difficult time settling into the story of the Slepy family.  Seena was so vague to me, and it took me a little bit to get the girls all straight.  I found Yllis a fascinating character; so physically different from her sisters and also given the gift of synesthesia.  It does get her into trouble sometimes, though.  And in 1976, no one really understood it. She seemed like the wise old woman of the story, even though she was the youngest one in the family.

I felt the family's trip to Africa was both a disaster and a revelation for each one of them, particularly Seena and Mary Grace.  Seena's reaction to Africa, the people, and the lack of education for the girls in the village reflects what some  people would feel upon first impression--especially those of us who come from a country where we take clean running water for granted.  And her awareness that she was a racist just by thinking the Africans were so much worse off than she was put it into perspective for me--some people are so obvious in their reactions to different cultures and peoples that it's clear how they feel; sometimes we shock ourselves when we realize what we think is simply our view of a culture is really an aspect of prejudice.  Material goods and things are not what makes a life. Mary Grace literally strips everything from herself in order to find the true Mary Grace.  She is reborn in Africa.  I found her "rebirth" to be one of the best parts of this novel.

 The Africans in this novel were much more in touch with life and death; they were happier even celebrating the funeral of a young girl.  Life is life, and death comes when it comes.  I think Seena realizes that in Africa and it turns her around.  Her discussions with the Queen are an enlightenment to her attitude and "wake" her up.  Can she be the mother she needs to be?

So what about the trial?  What did you think?  Were you shocked at the end, when you realize who killed Dick and why?  

Dick.  An interesting character.  Someone you despise, yet reading from his perspective, you understand what a lost soul he is, coming from a family that did not love him when he needed it.  His desperation at wanting someone to love him.  One of the most impactful chapters I read was Dick's view of his funeral.  His ability to find forgiveness and understand his feelings for Seena, and most especially, his total love for Yllis was so touching.  His spirit "falls into them", a drop for each woman in his life.  What a brilliant way of describing keeping someone close when they are gone.  I was very satisfied at the journey Dick takes spiritually--even though it takes dying to do it.

So.  This is a book that requires reflection.  It was tough for me to get through, and after finishing it yesterday, I am glad I read it.  It was not what I expected--I'm not sure what I expected, really.  Certainly a plot line that was new to me.

October's pick is The Reservoir by John Milliken Thompson.  I will be announcing November's pick next week, and I think we will skip December due to the holiday craziness.  

1 comment:

L Harris said...

I'm not quite through it; just over half actually. Your comments make me wanna finish it. Thanks. It has been a good book, but then it kinda dried out in the middle. It's picking up again. I'm glad that I decided to push through.