Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Like high school English all over again

Remember high school literature class when everyone had to read a selected book and discuss it, line by line? Then write a report discussing the meanings in the book and its overall impact on the reader?

I loved writing those reports. And I LOVED the discussions, where every little thing in the book was picked apart and alternate meanings assigned to colors, objects and words. Foreshadowing elements were found and dissected and the author's TRUE intention argued.

That is how I felt as I read "A Day No Pigs Would Die."

This is a pretty straight-forward coming-of-age novel about a young Shaker boy living with his family around the early 1800s, growing up on the farm and learning some very tough, but necessary, lessons. This book is one of those timeless pieces that can be read at 16 or 60 and the meaning remains unchanged.

I've read a few other reviews about this particular book, mostly reviews about how too graphic some of the scenes were, so graphic the meaning was lost. Yes, there are at least three fairly graphic, somewhat disturbing scenes. But doesn't it say something about the level of writing when the author can make the reader flinch and sweat simply by constructing a believable scene? While the scenes, one of a sow reluctantly being bred, another of a hog being butchered and a third of a terrier and a weasel fighting, were disturbing, they were definitely not unbelievable. They are all something a Shaker boy living on a farm would have experienced and each experience taught the boy something about life he will never forget.

This book is a quick read, the language flows easily from word to word, scene to scene, and its easy to devour chapter after chapter. It's quite thin compared to some of the novels I typically read and easily finished in a day, but worth the time.

Now, if only I could find a nice, local book club...I'd really have a few things to say about this one! I didn't realize how much I actually missed my high school and college literature classes until I picked up this book and thought about the discussions and arguments I could get into over this one!

I'd love to write a book report about it, but I don't think I'll be able to find someone to mark all over it in red pen for me.


Rebecca said...

A perfect post that also leaves me longing for my college literature classes. There was nothing better. Unfortunately, it seems the best we can do now is read a book and recommend it to a friend.

amy said...

Ooooooo...I wanna be the one to mark your report full of red pen! What fun!