Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Green Mile by Stephen King

Never having read Stephen King, I wasn't sure what to expect with The Green Mile but I am here to say that this is one incredible story, written so well and so engaging right from the first page that I couldn't put it down. 
Set at Cold Mountain Penitentiary in Georgia, this is the story of just a few months of time during 1932 and really focuses on John Coffey, a man who has been convicted of the rape and murder of two little girls. Two other prisoners, convicted murderers as well, are also a big focus of the story; Eduard Delacroix, a small french man who befriends a mouse named Mr. Jingles, and William Wharton, a psychopath known as "Billy the Kid". Paul Edgecombe is the "bull-goose screw" of the E block known as The Green Mile. Here we meet the other very likable guards, Brutal, Harry and Dean as well as one guard, Percy, who has his job because of his family connection to the governor and is just as sadistic and mean as the worst prisoner to live on this death row. 
John Coffey is a huge black man, simple-minded, afraid of the dark, and whose face shows great sorrow with his never-ending tears. He seems to be just a gentle giant of a man and after miraculously curing Paul's terrible urinary tract infection with a touch of his hand, Paul starts to wonder if it is really possible that John committed the terrible crime that he's been convicted of. John seems to have a gift - but is it more of a curse than a gift?
I can't tell you much more in order to not spoil some things for you if you haven't read this book. What I can tell you is that it is one of the best books I've ever read. You will connect emotionally with each character, whether or not you like them, love them or hate them. Each character could be your neighbor in your small town. There is no horror in this book like Stephen King is known for, only friends, enemies and magic. I finished the book in tears, then turned around and watched the movie, (which was done really well, by the way!), in tears also. A story that will haunt me for awhile.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

Hmmm...What to say about Little Bee? This is such a powerful novel about a young Nigerian girl whose entire family, entire village, is murdered by the oil company who has discovered the countries biggest national resource right under their village. The story starts out with Little Bee in a refugee detention center in Britain where she has been held for two years after coming over to Britain hidden on a ship. A slip of the keyboard, (and a favor granted to one of the office men), has four girls being released into the countryside outside of London with no papers and left to get by on their own. If caught, they will all be sent back to their respective countries, where it has been deemed they are not in danger. Of course, the people who decided these countries are safe are Britain's Home Office bureaucrats who have not lived through the terror of your family and neighbors being destroyed and who are not witness' to such horror. After being released, Little Bee sets out to find the only people in the UK that she has any connection with. Andrew and Sarah were Englishman that just happened to take a vacation to Nigeria and happened to be where they shouldn't have been; on the same beach where Little Bee and her older sister were running and hiding from the men who murdered their family. Worlds collided as the men caught up with them moments after they revealed themselves to the Britt's on the beach. 

I'm not going to tell you what happens next as it would be a big spoiler if you haven't read this novel. I will tell you that it is a novel that is written so well, that it truly evokes that thoughts and feelings of this young girl who has lived through such horror. It opens your eyes to the fact that these terrible things that happen in our world are not just a small story on the evening news, but rather a large, horrible story in the lives of so many and that these terrible things really do happen all of the time in our world. The story is powerful and moving but also written with humor that will make you laugh out loud from time to time. I am always amazed when a male author can write so well from the voice of a woman and Chris Cleave did it wonderfully. I am in love with Little Bee.