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Catharine L. (Petoskey,
The book follows two characters over a three week period in Africa. In 1899, Jeremy, a young engineer from Maine with a "shameful" secret is sent to British East Africa to build a railroad with hundreds of Indian laborers. Besides the malaria and primitive working conditions, he must hunt and kill the two lions killing his men.
Sarah H. (Arvada, CO)
Thorough and genuine
In 2000, Max a brillant botanist with Aspergers travels to to Rwanda to find a plant that could save many lives. She shadows a family of gorillas who hopefully will lead her to it. Both characters are misfits in their worlds; both have challenges - Jeremy the lions, Max, the Kutus (boy soldiers). The stories never intersect except at one small point which ties everything together. There's lots of interesting information and lots of suspense. Couldn't put it down.
Often books that were built upon significant research lose authenticity, they become forced, the story a conduit for the facts. That is not the case in Three Weeks in December, where the author has maintained respect for both storytelling and fact building. You learn through vicarious experience of vibrant characters through a story as strong as the data used to create it.
Debra P. (Belmont, NC)
I absolutely love this book. The use of 2 different time periods to tell the story of Africa. The current day perspective and 1899 colonialism expansion perspective, both time periods having huge impact on the continents eco system and people.I kept thinking about how we are doomed to repeat history and its mistakes if we do not understand the consequences of decisions we make now and have made in the past. I also like the way the author develops the characters. I feel as though I have been to Africa and I didn't want the book to end!!!!
Rosemary S. (Somers, NY)
Lots for Book Clubs to Discuss
I enjoyed reading Three Weeks in December and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. Book clubs could have a number of topics to discuss, such as the impact of "progress" on the environment, countries in Africa's past and current political unrest, genocide, pharmaceutical companies and their priorities, homosexuality, animal rights, to name a few.
Jen W. (Denver, CO)
A Lasting Impression
This book alternates between two different times in history, which adds to the drama, keeping the reader's interest. Max, one of the main characters, has Asperger's Syndrome, and the author does a good job of describing how everyday objects, people, sounds, textures, smells and social encounters can affect her. It made me understand why she related so well to the animals in the book. Even though the stories take place in Africa, the reader can easily make comparisons to other similar times and places in history.
It's not often to find a book that makes this deep of an impression after the last page is read. This is a book to savor, one that is difficult to put down. The writing in this book is perfectly balanced- descriptive without being overdone, richly paced without being incoherent or predictable. The characters are the kind of characters that stay with you long after the book is closed. The alternating perspectives in this novel from one time period to another propel the story along. Both perspectives stand strongly alone, but are richer and more vibrant together. As they weave toward their final connection, it is difficult to put the book down. This is the best kind of novel; one that makes you think about humanity, your own connections to the world and to how you interact within that world. This is a great read.
Nancy O. (Hobe Sound, FL)
A good compelling read
Audrey Schulman is very good at storytelling -- with Three Weeks in December she offers a very realistic and complete sense of place, two very intriguing narratives that compel continued reading and good character development, especially with her main characters. Side characters have their moments, but they're not as fleshed out as maybe they should be. It's very obvious she's done a lot of research in putting this book together, and it pays off. My issue with this book is that sometimes she goes a bit over the top -- there's a bit about Max's attempts at sex that lead her to organic cucumbers with condoms to avoid pesticides that is really kind of unnecessary here (she even talks to it about her day). Jeremy's angst just never lets up, either -- okay, I get it, the guy wrestles with his inner demons, but it's unrelenting at times, leading me to skim those parts after a while because there's just way too much and it becomes distracting after a while. One more thing ... I had the "aha" moment figured out very early on, so the surprise just wasn't as powerful as it could have been.
Carrie W. (Arcanum, OH)
Three weeks in December
Three Weeks in December is a powerful read that breaks away from the mainstream zone and has some very interesting things to say beneath the main stories. It's a very approachable novel, and I'd recommend it to readers looking for something a bit different. This book would be a good book-club read because of the underlying issues on progress and its effects on indigenous populations and the environment as well as the challenges that sooner or later everyone must face in their lives.
I enjoyed this book very much, the writing flowed it was easily read and followed, and I love how you didn't know how the two main characters were related until the very end. I would not recommended to all due to the homosexuality.
Frederick M. (Wilmington, NC)
3 Weeks in December
I greatly enjoyed this book. I found the descriptions of Africa at the turn of the century were stirring, and the author's depiction of the difficulties living with Asperger's were quite novel and added greatly to the book. Thumbs up!