It’s been a minute since the last installment of book reviews written by the student assistants of the library (part 1 is here and part 2 is here), but better late than never… here’s the last one for the semester!
I found The Color Master: Stories by Aimee Bender on the new book display at Gleeson Library. I recognized the author, Aimee Bender, from her New York Times best-selling novel The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. In Lemon Cake, Bender mixes real-life harsh situations (family troubles, depression) with fantasy in a truly innovative way. In Lemon Cake, the main character, a young girl, is able to taste feelings in any food she’s served – meaning if her Mom is depressed and bakes, the girl can taste the sadness in every scone.
In The Color Master, Bender again showcases her unique take on fantasy. The Color Master is a collection of short stories, all bizarrely beautiful and reality-bending. The two stories that stuck out the most were “Tiger Mending” and the story the book is named for, “The Color Master.” In “Tiger Mending,” large, beautiful tigers mysteriously begin coming apart at the seams – and it’s the job of two women to sew them back up. In “The Color Master,” a princess orders extravagant dresses from a team of tailors. She orders a dress that looks like the sun, a dress that looks like the moon and a dress that looks like the sea. Getting the colors just right is near impossible – thankfully, the mysterious color master is able to concoct precisely the right formula. Unfortunately for the tailors, the color master is dying; will anyone be able to take her place?
Aimee Bender writes short, smart stories that make a reader think while retaining the perfect amount of magic. Both The Color Master and The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake are original, fun reads that you will speed through.
We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo is a fictional novel about a young Zimbabwean girl growing up in the slums and the stark contrast between her childhood home and the cold suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. The novel is split into two parts, the first detailing Darling’s (the protagonist) sunny, carefree life in Paradise, Zimbabwe. But even though the first half is filled with funny anecdotes with Darling’s lively friends, Bulawayo weaves in dark themes such as incest and the effects of globalization on Africa that carries on to the latter part of the novel, in her move to Michigan. Even though the overall tone of the novel is dark at times, Bulawayo’s writing style shines throughout the book in her vivid descriptions of Darling’s neighborhood and her sharp observations of American culture. Overall, anyone who was an immigrant or came from an immigrant family can relate to Bulawayo’s sense of belonging and not belonging in a culture that is hers and not really hers at the same time.