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The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt

A Novel

by Andrea Bobotis

The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea Bobotis X
The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea Bobotis
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  • Published:
    Jul 2019, 320 pages

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There are currently 22 reader reviews for The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt
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Davida Chazan

A Family Inventory
First and foremost, oh… my… goodness! Bobotis is an absolutely amazing writer! The language here is so stunning, that I’m having a hard time describing it to you all. Bobotis’ voice is very unique, which is something that is probably the hardest thing to achieve for any writer. That this is a debut novel makes this all the more impressive (but I believe she’s been honing her craft with short stories and the like, with some very good success).

What fascinated me the most is how Bobotis’ prose seems to just flow, so very naturally and smoothly, while at the same time she employs metaphors and assigns attributes to things that we’d never think of under normal circumstances. Emotions get things like colors and textures, while inanimate objects take on anthropomorphic elements, bringing them to life.

However, this isn’t poetry, although some phrases are unarguably poetic, since these come as little sparkles, splashed into the most ordinary of sentences. If this doesn’t make sense, I’m really sorry, but you’ve got to believe me that Bobotis’ talent is something very special indeed, and you’ll just have to read it yourself to get my meaning.

Of course, all this could be just well and good on its own, but Bobotis combines all this with a family saga and the search for the truth in these peoples’ lives that is adroitly plotted and nimbly paced to achieve maximum enticement to read on and on. We get every element needed such as sex (although it is implied more than described, thank you very much), intrigue, conspiracy, deception, cruelty, abuse, and even a bit of extortion and blackmail, not to mention murder and adultery. But there’s also compassion, generosity, and kindness and a group of people who refuse to adhere to the norms of racism that were so prevalent at the time (which unfortunately, continue to some extent even today). As complex as this may sound, Bobotis serves us this menu one course at a time, through Judith’s eyes, while remaining true to her theme of Judith’s inventory by occasionally giving us a list of the items in the Kratt home that Judith notes. What I found even more clever was that the list changes and increases as it includes things that she features in each of the chapters, all of which go towards slowly unveiling all of the Kratt family secrets. Mind you, we can figure out a few of these mysteries before some of the characters, but that doesn’t lessen any of the suspense here.

Finally, Bobotis also knows just how to develop her characters so that we react with just the right amounts of empathy and/or disgust at just the right intervals. Judith’s craggy demeanor and Olva’s overly submissive overtures evolve throughout the story in such subtle and realistic ways that we hardly notice the undertones of a coming of age subplot, but it’s there all the same. Plus, all the quirky, and sometimes unsavory minor characters all play their parts to push the story along, all the way through to the gentle ending, that leaves just enough to the imagination to be satisfying while not wanting to let any of them go. That doesn’t mean I’m expecting a sequel, but I can promise you that I’d be first in line to grab a copy if Bobotis decides to write one.

I think I’ve been effusive enough about this novel, so I’ll stop here. (But just to be certain… I wanted to rush through it, but I also wanted to savor each and every word, it was just that wonderful.) Of course, I’m positive that my readers can already figure out that I’m giving this a resounding full five out of five stars. This is very unusual for me, and it reminds me how I gave equally as much high praise and marks to Fredrik Backman’s “A Man Called Ove,” which I also had the privilege to read prior to its publication. I knew then that he’d become a sensation, and if Bobotis can sustain this level of creativity in her next works, I believe she’s going to be on a very similar path towards success (and I hope to come along for the ride)! Brava, Andrea, BRAVA!
Amy E. (Delaware, OH)

A Southern Tale
I very much enjoyed Miss Judith's story. Time moved at a relaxed pace for her, but it was certainly not a "kinder, gentler time". Bound, South Carolina provided not only a back drop for a cast of diverse and flawed characters, but was instrumental in their development.
I had expected a genteel southern story, but instead got a tale of ambition, greed, lies, racism and the destruction of a family.
Ms. Bobotis tells a story illustrating the survival of the fittest in a very readable manner.
Power Reviewer
Donna W. (Wauwatosa, WI)

The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt
This story starts simply, relating Judith's life presently when she is in the her 70s. Then it reverts to her life as a 15 year old. The story continues as it weaves back and forth between these 2 time periods, and unravels the family secrets related to 1 critical day.

I was drawn into the story quickly and the transition between the two time lines flowed smoothly. The tension built and kept me wanting to see what happened next. I liked the characters and enjoyed the beautiful language. It was a quick, easy read, and thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end.
Melissa S. (Rowland, NC)

An Inventory of Family
Set in the deep south, Bobotis spins a tale of reality deeply familiar to fellow southerners. Beyond the sad repercussions of racial injustice and bigotry, she dives into the mystery of personal perceptions. As the novel begins, the reader is subjected to Judith's perception of reality, both past and present. However, throughout the novel, the reader is gently guided into other character's perception of reality, which, not surprisingly, are all very different, yet true (to various degrees).
By tackling, racism, friendship, family dynamics, and forbidden love, Bobotis creates a complicated saga that in the end, leaves the reader both sad and hopeful. We see changed hearts, love and unfortunately, stubborn minds develop throughout the novel.
My favorite aspect of the novel is Bobotis's keen ability to make the seemingly most rational character quietly unravel before the reader's eye until we realize she was the most out of touch character in the entire saga. At that moment of clarity, I felt well played by the author.
Marybeth T. (Bellingham, WA)

Love a good southern story
I love a good southern story and this didn't disappoint. It was fun to watch the story unfold and all the secrets the the family had. I found the pacing to be a page turner which I love. I look forward to more books by this author.
Gretchen M. (Martinsburg, WV)

It's Just Stuff
Judith is taking inventory of heirlooms that have been in her family for decades. This is the story of the lies, secrets and history revealed by this list of items. The author does a fantastic job of helping the reader completely imagining the main characters as if in a movie. And the character - Judith- I wasn't sure I liked too well developed into one that I did. There was only one twist I didn't see coming. And only one loose end I would have liked to know: What really happened to Charlie? This is a nice addition to southern genre if you want to read something new and different.
Joni G. (McConnelsville, OH)

Beautifully Written Debut
The first thing I usually notice about a book is it's cover and I just love this one. The book is set in the South and the author does a great job describing it. Although it took me awhile to get into the story I am glad I stuck with it. This book deals with some tough issues including racial division, family relationships, and their secrets. I would recommend this beautifully written debut to lovers of Southern Fiction.
Carol P. (Leland, NC)

Living in the South- Racial Strife
I have always had an interest in books based in the South and Southern traditions. We just moved from NJ to NC and therefore thought I would try this book. I truly enjoyed how the author tied the list of items noted by MIss Judith to be inventoried to the events in the story. The dynamics of the flashbacks to her youth were very poignant. I would recommend this book to anyone interested to read more about the dynamics of the racial issues prior to segregation and the impact to those who tried to "cross the lines". I would however have liked more detail on Judith's family i.e. her father and mother to understand why they chose the paths they did. I loved the character of Olva and her commitment to Judith and found the way the author developed the story line of Judith and Olva and the mystery of Judith's brother Quincy's death, very well crafted. There is love, humor and tragedy in this book and you are left pondering what could have been if times were different. I would recommend to young people and to book clubs. There is much to discuss and compare to the changes in race relations today.
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