Reviews

Mixed Media
|
Fiction for adults

River Rising

by Athol Dickson
reviewed by Lori Vanden Bosch

More swamp than substance, Pilotville, La., is a lonely shipping outpost on the Mississippi River in 1927. There, blacks and whites live—if not worship—together in apparent harmony. Enter Hale Poser. Poser is a black man, a reverend, a stranger, and a volunteer janitor at the Negro hospital. A humble man, in this place he suddenly seems capable of miracles, even rescuing mother and infant from a painful breech birth. When that infant mysteriously disappears, Poser’s search for the child—and for his own past—leads him to the town’s dangerous and deeply buried secret. Dickson’s richly atmospheric novel, published in 2005, seems eerily prescient of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. It reminds us how close our own past remains, how racism and inhumanity still dog our steps, and how desperately short of miracles we mortals are. It also reminds us of the unlikely Savior who came to change everything. (Bethany)

Fiction for kids

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

by Kate DiCamillo
reviewed by Kathryn Hoffman

Edward Tulane is a custom-made china rabbit, and he is dearly loved by a small girl named Abilene. Abilene’s grandmother has the magical ability to peer into Edward’s soul, and she sees that he is full of love for one person only—himself. Soon after, Edward is separated from Abilene, and his miraculous journey begins. He endures many highs and lows during his travels, such as being gently rocked by a dying child and being abandoned on the ocean floor. On every step of his journey, Edward’s china heart grows softer and softer until he fully understands what it means to love. Kate DiCamillo does not try to avoid the strong feelings of pain and sorrow that surround Edward’s experiences of love and loss, and she delivers a satisfying ending that deftly avoids sappy sentimentality. (Candlewick Press)

website

www.howstuffworks.com

reviewed by Kelly Crull

Howstuffworks.com is the perfect place for those who often catch themselves saying, “I think I read somewhere....” The home page itself is chock-full of recent articles from the highly informative “How Hybrid Cars Work” to something fun like “How the Death Star Works.” There is even an article to help desperate parents tell their inquisitive little ones “How Making Babies Works.” You can snack on the Fact of the Day, the Quote of the Day, and Today’s Question. Howstuffworks.com is also available by way of e-mail, CD, book, and a children’s magazine, which includes a teacher’s guide. The next time you can’t remember where you read that little tidbit, my guess is that you found out about it on howstuffworks.com.

CD

Aerial

by Kate Bush
reviewed by Philip Christman

The only person to write a hit song about an Emily Brontë novel, Kate Bush recorded seven albums of theatrical, piano-led pop during the 1980s. She then spent the 1990s in silence, while a generation of songwriters (from Tori Amos to the Decembrists) stole from her. Happily, her first album in 12 years accomplishes a great deal more than just letting us know she’s still alive. “Bertie” successfully borrows sounds from Renaissance folk music for an aching paean to motherhood. “Pi” and “Joanni” invest the unlikely topics of math and Joan of Arc with palpable emotion. The second disc is one long, tempestuous medley, orchestrating elements of folk, classical, R&B, rock, and new age into a satisfying whole. Like Bush’s classic albums—The Dreaming (1982) and Hounds of Love (1985)—Aerial combines a wide-ranging, sometimes eccentric imagination with excellent songwriting; it’s accessible but gratifyingly strange. (Columbia)

social commentary

Losing Moses on the Freeway: The 10 Commandments in America

by Chris Hedges
reviewed by Wayne Brouwer

Beth sold her soul to rock music. A boarding school coerced fake Sabbath observance. Vietnam made a murderer out of young George Packard. Hedges writes a sobering book, using the Decalogue to tell stories of shattered lives, broken promises, ethical failures, and government collusions. Each chapter probes Hedges’s view of the primary moral concern behind successive commandments. Some links between command and study seem strained. The third becomes an opportunity to address lying, and reflections on the ninth focus on envy. Fleshing out the fifth, Hodges includes his anti-war graduation address. While the chapter honors his father, both Hedges’s original address and its insertion here seem to lack good judgment. Hedges is a moral prophet, shouting down the worst of our ethically compromised society. Unfortunately, his journey leads to no biblical God; only a call to love because that’s a better way to live. Still, for powerful reflections on the ills of our culture, this is a good read. (Free Press)

X