Read advance reader review of Remembrance by Rita Woods, page 4 of 5

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by Rita Woods

Remembrance by Rita Woods X
Remembrance by Rita Woods
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  • Cynthia S. (Rensselaer, NY)
    This book took me a while to keep the characters straight and how they relate to each other. I especially liked the characters of Mother Abigail, Winter and the young slaver Dix. Book clubs could have some interesting and lively discussions of the many characters the "gifts" and of Remembrance itself. The some of the scenes are very vivid.
  • Catherine H. (Barnegat, NJ)
    Remembrance by Rita Woods, the historical fiction exposing the human conditions of slavery in America, tells the story of four women. Set over the course of time from 1791 to current day, from Haiti and New Orleans to Cleveland, the characters learn the Art of listening to the spirits of their ancestors. Each one has an ancient spiritual gift that gives value to her life and the destiny of her people. The lives of these characters are woven together like a tight cornrow braid, starting at the roots with Abigail a Haitian slave brought to America. But, can a series of events in the Mystical Sanctuary of Remembrance unravel this inviolable weave?

    The strong points of this story are the portrayal of the humanity of enslaved people. A story of hope, faith and redemption. Compared to the works of Toni Morrison, I felt the lack of rhythm in the narrative made the flow, of a very important message, difficult to become fully immersed in.

    I am currently reading The Water Dancer by Ta Nehisi Coates, so I would definitely add Remembrance to your list of books with this theme of a world between worlds where magical forces overcome a reality of inhumanity and brutality.
  • Mary G. (Lawrenceville, NJ)
    Retired Elementary School Teacher
    Remembrance is an interesting alternative to the tragic history of slavery and slave hunters. The book spans over several centuries into present day. Beginning with the slave country of Haiti and the decades before the slave rebellion there. I think the topic of slavery is a very sensitive one and this is reflected in the book by the way some slave holders treated their slaves in a somewhat humane manner, while others were extremely cruel. Also how the concept of slavery, once fully understood, could change a slave hunter into a slaves' friend.

    I liked the book, I thought it was interesting concept how it tied scientific theories into the plot. The idea of a perfect Eden for ex-slaves as an idealistic community, a bypass of the underground railroad. A community that is under the direction of an "Omnipotent Mother". A self sufficient community with little connections to the outside world, other than the Abolitionist, Quaker Mary. A perfect protected Eden, until the boundaries to the outside world are compromised.

    The main characters were unique in that they possessed hidden and sometimes latent mystical powers and voodoo. The book was a little confusing at times how the chapters went from character to character though the different centuries. The characters and events seemed to blend together through the centuries in time and space. As I continued reading, the chapters narrowed to focus on three main characters. I also felt the chapters were redundant in some ways going from one character to another in order to retell events from each characters prospective.

    I think this book would raise many interesting discussions for any book group. Discussions could range from the Slave Rebellion in Haiti, Abolitionists movement, runaway slaves and the slave hunters, Voodoo and mysticism practices.

    Similar book of interest:
    Isabel Allende, Island Beneath the Sea. About the slave rebellion in Haiti.
    Susan Monk-Kidd, The Invention of Wings
  • Laura G. (Buffalo, NY)
    The premise of this book really intrigued me and the writing reeled me in immediately. Unfortunately, in spite of beautifully descriptive writing, the plot was not to my liking. I was very excited to read about 3 different historical periods and how the author would tie them together. The book however is not the historical fiction I imagined but a mystic fantasy with very little in the way of tying it all together in the end. I read to the end wondering how it would work and even imagined a few ways it might have but was sorely disappointed. There were many loose ends that didn't need to be.
  • Joane W. (Berlin, MD)
    Rememberance is a book of magical properties, heroines, freedom, fantasy and a little tragedy. I enjoyed this book but found that going back and forth thru the years was somewhat confusing.
  • Lynne Z. (San Francisco, CA)
    Mixed Review
    It took me a long time to finish Remembrance, and I'm not sure why. In the end, I thought it was too long and could have used more editing. I liked the interconnected stories, especially those between Margot and Winter, and thought that the author wrote lovely descriptions of places - Haiti, New Orleans and Remembrance. The scenes with the slavers were so intense. Frank and Colm could definitely be the cause of bad dreams. Mysticism and magic usually bother me, and I often have a hard time relating (e.g. Colson Whitehead's, The Underground Railroad.) However, it seemed to work, for the most part, in this book. The ending wasn't satisfying to me. I'm not sure I really understood Josiah. I would have liked to have known more about Gaelle - she didn't seem well-developed. Upon reflection I would give this book a 3.5.
  • Debra L. (Deerfield, IL)
    Not Exciting
    This book was just an average story about slavery. I wanted more about the magical place "remembrance". I wanted more description about the people who lived there and the spirit world that created this safe place. That would have made this book different and more interesting.

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