Remembered

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Member Reviews

This book is too sexually graphic for my taste...I tried to read it because I really thought it sounded good, but I ended up quitting part of the way through.
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I received this from Netgalley.com for a review.

Moving between 1910 Philadelphia and 1843 plantation slave life, Spring with the help of her dead sister, newspaper clippings and reconstructed memories, shatters the silences that have governed her life.

The book felt undeveloped, disjointed, and rushed toward the end.

2☆
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This has gotten great reviews, and while I don't agree with all of them, it's obviously a book that will resonate with a lot of readers. I found the writing to be imitative of--but not as strong as--that of Toni Morrison's, and the jagged, non-linear form of narrative was more of an annoyance than a device for building and sustaining tension and anticipation.
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Remembered

A family history that starts close to the end of the narrator’s tale. . .and requires backstory fills to introduce the players between these covers, and from the very beginning you sense the spirits, haunts, ghosts in the room. If they seem to be sliding into each other, passing through the living, gliding from generation to generation, I believe that is true. This was one woman’s long, free association from one experience to the next, and back round to the past to pick up a detail, or off to the “present” (1910) right after a horrific accident in which her son is either victim or hero – she doesn’t know which, and is as indifferent to that answer as any mother would be. She only cares that he is at death’s door, and that her sister, an everpresent spirit, is making demands of her. . . .or is that really support, help and guidance from one who has gone ahead, just a little?

The bones of the story were elusive for me at first, but once I understood the role of Tempe, the fiery sister spirit who drives Spring, the narrator, onward in her actions in life, I settled in to the tale. The goal is to remember. . . .remember the stories, remember the experiences, remember . . . ."me" or "us." As long as there is memory of it, it is real, it is true, it happened. Tempe wants the dying son to remember. . . but there are so many things he was never told and that becomes the worry and trouble Spring spreads on the pages of this book. She pours out her shared remembering, speaking for Tempe, too, as they were twins in slavery – starting from enslaved free people, kidnaped by a devilish father and son duo who were looking to grow the plantation's population. From there the story robs a reader of any safe place to hide. Spring remembers through the spirits who were there the dark tricks of survival, how to exist as prisoners of war for not just the length of the war, but for generation after generation by subjugators that were carefully raised up in the cruelties encouraged and expected of their socially-agreed-upon station. Distressing. It was bitter stuff to read.

When I experience these memories of unrighteous dominions imposed on others, through reading, or listening, or watching a screen, I am quietly astonished – even to the point of physical sensation: dry mouth, lips tight shut, shallow breath. Yet, there is a fierce stubbornness that rises from these characters and compels me, an acute fervor that yields up a kind of hope that demands I listen; and so, I do. I get the importance of remembering. Remembered provoked all of this in me.

A sincere thanks to Yvonne Battle-Felton, Blackstone Publishing and NetGalley for providing me an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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With over 200 reviews, I can only add that this is not as good as I thought it would be (as an award winner). But the author has talent, and it is well written.  3.5 stars

I really appreciate the review copy!!
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Remembered is a powerful and heartbreaking story. It's bound to be a classic like Toni Morrison's Beloved and Uncle Tom's Cabin.

When Edward goes into a coma after crashing a trolley into a crowded storefront, Spring goes to the hospital and tells him the family's history. Their secret story is full of heartache, abuse, strength and survival. 

This book tore at my heart. The cruelty of humanity can be appalling.
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I was excited to receive an arc of this Women's Prize nominee as I thought it was about African Americans in 1910's Philadelphia. So I was a little disappointed that the bulk of the book is flashbacks to a plantation in Maryland before and during the Civil War. Yvonne Battle-Felton pulls no punches in her depictions of slavery, and the cruelties that Ella suffers at the hands of her kidnappers as well as her fellow slaves are heartbreaking. I think a few more chapters would have heightened the emotional impact overall, as many characters are mentioned early on but whose significance is explained all too briefly. I especially wish there was more about Spring and her comrades' experiences in postwar Philadelphia, as that part of the book felt rather rushed.
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Spring cannot leave her dying brother’s bedside. It’s the turn of the 20th century and Edward’s hospital is in a less than desirable neighborhood . There are ugly stories about her brother’s injuries, some say he drove a streetcar straight through a window, some say it was purely accidental, but the police believe it’s connected to a larger darker scheme. Spring need to reach her brother to understand the truth and also explain things about his own origins. Can her dead sister bridge the gap between them?
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