August 6, 2008 at 1:32 pm 5 comments

I have just finished the saddest book I have ever read in my life.   It is called Conception by Kalisha Buckhanon. It is an adult novel but had a 15 year old main character, so I am reading it for the teen committee on which I am currently serving.    It truly has made me very sad.

It is set in the city of Chicago.  Shivana is a 15 year old girl with no prospects, and she is having sex with the husband of the woman she babysits for.   She has a vague idea that this might be what it is to be loved but I think down deep she realizes it is not love at all.   Her mother is abusive.  They live in a small apartment one step above the projects and her father is missing in action.   Then, of course, she finds herself pregnant with the man’s baby.   He ends up going to jail for dealing crack, and when he discovers that she is pregnant he makes it clear that it never really was love and she was deluded.   She now must either decide to have an abortion or try to keep the child.

The story also has a second story line.  We hear the voice of the child who longs to be born. Apparently, the child has tried on several occasions to be born, but every time the mother dies before the child can come to life.  The story starts in the time of slavery, travels to after the Civil War, and coninues through Harlem in the thirties.  And each time the baby wants to be born but each story ends in disaster.

It was a compelling story and it really did pull you through the pages.   You wanted to keep reading to discover what the ending would be.    I think it would make a great book for discussion in a book group.  There are a lot of layers in the story that could really be talked about.   You really begin to care for Shivana and start to worry about what will become of her.

It also helps to make the plight of lost children in the inner city seem real.  So often, we know that they exist and that life must be hard for them but we never can really know what life must be really like.  This novel takes one of those families and brings it to life.  You can see how a child can feel unloved with no future to look forward to.   How school becomes a grueling ordeal that one must get through.  How the thought of family planning and obtaining “the pill” at fifteen almost seems necessary.   How lucky we are to have the life that we do, when some people out there are suffering like this every day.

I guess the book moved me more than I had really thought.  I thought I hated the novel because it left me feeling so utterly sad, but maybe it is good for me to read about other types of people living in this world of ours.    I can’t wait to get to the meeting to discuss it.  I wonder what the others in my group think of this novel.

I would hesitate giving it to a teen, though.  Some of the sex is graphic and the subject matter is a little adult.   I think an older teen might be able to read it but I think they would need someone to talk it through with after they are done.

So there you have it.    Read it if you want and if you do, let me know what you think.   But keep a box of tissues at the ready.  You might need them.


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Birdhouses Still Waters

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Steve Rebooted  |  August 6, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Very interesting. I’ll have to check the book out. It does sound sobering, but I like well-developed characters and plots.

  • 2. Dr. Sparky  |  August 6, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    I love ya, man. But I may have to skip this one.

  • 3. tigeryogiji  |  August 6, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    Yes, this is a pass in my book too. Thanks for doing the dirty work for us though! 🙂

  • 4. Halo  |  August 7, 2008 at 11:49 am

    It sounds about as fun as a kick in the crotch!

  • 5. urspo  |  August 9, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    i have enough depression in my life thankyouverymuch
    i will pass on this one!


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