February 5, 2011

Anacaona: Golden Flower by Edwidge Danticat

Date Started: February 2, 2011
Date Finished: February 3, 2011

Summary: Anacaona was a high chieftess of Haiti during the late 1400s. This story chronicles her life from her marriage and birth of her daughter. Despite her apprehensiveness about being a ruler or a wife and mother, the impending invasion of the Spaniards threatens Anacaona and her family as well as the nation that she is destined to rule.

Likes: The prose was so lyrical and beautiful to read. Having read one of Danticat's adult novels for class, I'm glad that her language can translate well for a young adult/middle grade novel. The author took a lot of liberties considering that the tainos didn't have a written language, but rather told stories orally or through pictographs. There's not much in the way of plot until the last third of the book, but going through the daily routine of Anacaona is just nice because the way she describes certain customs of her people is so beautiful to read. Also it's nice to read one of these Royal Diaries stories from someone who was born in the country they are talking about. Danticat was born in Port Au Prince, Haiti. While it's not a requirement that people from certain countries can only tell their people's stories, it is definitely appreciated when someone does because they personally had a stake in everything that happened as opposed to hearing about it, then getting interested in it. Danticat states that she often heard this story as a child and was honored to write it for other people to read, enjoy, and most importantly share. 

Dislikes:  This is probably one of the most depressing stories in the Royal Diaries series that I've ever read. There is nothing wrong with the actual book, but since it's a historical book, most of us can surmise what came next. That's what makes the book depressing. Why we celebrate massive genocide for Colombus Day is beyond me, but reading historical accounts (fictional or otherwise) makes it obvious why we don't learn this stuff in elementary school (I didn't even learn any of this stuff until I got to college).

Overall: I like this book, even though it was sad. These are the books that should be encouraged for us to read in elementary school. This book however came out in 2005, so I was already a junior by then. If I had read this in elementary school, I'd definitely have a broader perspective on the world and the history that is taught to us opposed to what really happened. I'm sure any child who was as curious and inquisitive as I was would have went to search for more books regarding this topic.

Recommended by: U, at the library. We were in the middle grade section (the only time I go to that section is when I'm with U) and by the Dear America and Royal Diaries section when she points out a bright green book and goes "Look, it's about Haiti." Given what has happened in Haiti with the earthquakes and everything else, I thought it would be interesting to read. It was a good read, but it was depressing.

Acquired: Library

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MissAttitude said...

After the earthquake in Haiti I spent a week reviewing YA/MG books set in Haiti or about Haitain Americans (Danticat has another MG, called Behind the Mountains I think) and this is one of the books I read. It has me even more curious to read Edwidge Danticat's adult novels, which one did you read? I think I may pick up Krik, Krack first.

Anyway, I despise that we celebrate Christopher Columbus day but I admit, I like my day off =/ However he did some truly despicable things so I would give up my day off with much less grumbling if we stopped celebrating him and it was explained to all kids why he shouldn't be celebrated.

Not much happened at first but it was nice just to develop a feel for Haiti so early on and get a sense of what daily life was like. There is an inevitable air of sadness I felt as a reader.

Najela said...

That's awesome. I wish I would have done that, but it didn't even cross my mind to do that. I read The Dew Breaker for class. It's a beautiful novel, heartbreaking, but I didn't get a chance to finish it.

I don't even get the day off, so it's even worse. I didn't even know most of the stuff that he did until I got to college. I knew the stuff they were telling us in elementary and middle and whatever were lies, but it never crossed my mind to look into the matter deeply (just because everything was so glossed over, it didn't stay on my mind long enough)

I did like that aspect that it wasn't all action action action, but there was definitely an underlying sense of foreboding.


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