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Excerpted from Welcome to Utopia by Karen Valby Copyright © 2010 by Karen Valby. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted September 13, 2011
Welcome to Utopia is an amazing American story. It is the story of a town and its people striving to survive in today's world, while clinging to the ways of the past, the things that made it what and who it is.
At the heart of the book are four residents of Utopia, Texas: Colter, the son of a real cowboy, who is not one, himself; Kathy, a waitress with three sons gone off to war; Ralph, the retired general store owner; and Kelli, a black rock singer, who also happens to be one of the few black Utopians.
Utopia is all that we think of as "Small Town America", but it struggles against itself to stay that way, while surviving and wanting to thrive. Almost a contradiction of itself, Utopia is true to itself, which makes you love it. Your heart goes out to the people of Utopia, to make it, to remain true, to survive. But your heart breaks for them as they struggle to be real, to be all that they know is right.
Welcome to Utopia made me feel what its people felt. I wanted life to be good for the people there. I felt I knew them, and felt honoured to have visited them in their hometown.
Posted May 5, 2011
Posted January 5, 2011
Eye-opening masterpiece of narrative nonfiction that reminds readers that people view the world, goals, and accomplishments with a different lens based on their environment and setting. In this novel, the setting, is a small town in Texas called Utopia. This town may not see eye to eye on issues involving presidents of the United States or if the city should be allowed to build sidewalks; but when tragedies hit or a family is suffering from financial problems, a person cannot witness a more perfect example of unity than what this town displays in times of crisis. Outsiders are not wanted and old-timers are regarded as the unspoken leaders of the town. As a reader you get thrown into these people whom live in a town where they are outside of the presence of the modern world of televisions and outside influences and you feel their grief and triumphs throughout the book. So many of the younger generations have the aspirations of leaving Utopia and seeing the world, but then once they get the opportunity and get out, its like they cannot get back to Utopia quick enough.....at least most of them. Could you live in this town? Most likely you will never know, because it takes four generations of living in Utopia before you are accepted, but one thing is for sure, I am sure you will accept this book for its exquisite writing of a town that is unique and could entertain the masses. Highly recommended!!!!!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 12, 2010
The book points out significant differences between small towns and large urban areas. (I must say, however, that even though I live in a large metropolitan area, I have yet to make the acquaintance of a Yale student or graduate.)
But the book also highlights questions and issues that we all face about our direction in life and how we deal - or don't deal - with relatives, parents, and each other.
The topic that most surprised me by its absence was the question of illegal immigrants. Or did I overlook something?
Posted June 17, 2010
As a descendant of multiple generations of Utopians, and I enthusiastically approve of this book. I eagerly waited for over a year to see what Karen took from my hometown, and was not dissapointed after reading it in three days.
It would have been easy for an outside observer to produce an superficial overview of a tiny hick town, full of racism and ignorance, stubbornly stuck in the past.
However, Karen wasn't content with being a detached observer, instead choosing to embed and immerse herself into the town, taking genuine interest in its residents. She took notice of the details of the history, settings and customs that make Utopia special.
What she produced was an honest, affectionate, surprisingly thorough account of a community at a crossroads. I find the timing of her arrival interesting, as she did find the town in an unprecedented state of transition. She did a great job of portraying the proud traditions, the generations clinging to them and the angst and yearing of the younger generation.
While one reviewer stated that her conclusions were neither surprising nor original, I don't believe that she was necessarily intending them to be. She merely wanted to depict a community and lifestyle that is more foreign to most city folks than she was to the old timer coffee drinkers. And so she did.
Posted June 7, 2010
This book sounds like life in any small Texas town written from the point of view of someone that doesn't live in Texas. The author has no feel for the lives or trials experienced by these people. She comes in as an outsider and remains an outsider.
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Posted August 13, 2011
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Posted February 10, 2011
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