As one woman's story of overcoming unfolds, so do the pages of the Underground Railroad.
North Carolina's Lumbee Indian heritage is explored and finally examined when a written document is handed to the rightful heir. But not before Exilee Sheffield learns through real life experiences that fate sometimes rides a hot horse.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.72(d)|
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Complex characters inhabit a very real contemporary world in Stephanie M Sellers’ Black Purse. Good farmers care for horses just as well as if they were people, and in the process, animals ease the pain of humans who learn to earn their trust. Under the surface, though, there’s a wealth of human history, family and national, waiting to be scratched and brought to light. Part-American-Indian, Part-African-American, and wholly herself, belonging in no box, young Exilee is angry and maybe rightly rebellious. But the gentle family that gives her space and a job soon becomes part of her life. And their son—well, maybe he’s always been part of her dreams, though she’s not sure she wants to settle down. Quiet romance grows awkwardly in the first third of this novel, with deep questions of race and pride discussed at length in the beauty of a long horse-ride. But the story comes of age and finds its footing when the young victim of modern prejudice enters the family’s lives. Animals and nature weave their magic to strengthen and heal, and evidence of historical cruelties weave into present-day mystery and suspense. There’s a genuine honesty and faith in the protagonists of this tale—wounded people, generous and ready to forgive, facing others whose greed and anger cause only more hurts. There’s a wonderful respect for individuality too, and those boxes we place each other in cannot hold our neighbors anymore than a box holds the grown-up Exilee. The story’s not an easy read, partly for its content and partly for style. Leisurely, sometimes awkward and unedited, not quite fitting any box or genre, it might not flow the way the reader might expect. But the book’s well worth reading and leaves a haunted feeling of history belonging to more than just people or land, and lessons well-learned. Disclosure: I received a free ecopy of this novel from the author in exchange for my honest review.
When I approached the author to review this book, I have to admit that I had no idea what to expect. I am a big fan of historical fiction, and I knew that was partially what this book was. I also knew it had something to do with native Americans. I also figured this would be a step outside my comfort zone, and I was certainly right about that. The first third of the book was very difficult for me to read. I have not ever been a fan of books written in the present tense. That is honestly just a personal preference, but as I went on, I got used to it. I didn't even notice this issue by the time I was two third into it. The other thing that made the first third of the book difficult for me was that the style of writing was reminiscent of another great author who is not a favorite of mine. "Streams of consciousness" is a style of writing that was popularized by William Faulkner, and I would say that Stephanie Sellers tends to write along those lines. Again, it is just a personal preference of mine. I prefer to read a book that tells a story in a very straightforward manner and does not go back and forth between present, past, and future. That is what streams of consciousness is. But enough of a literary lesson. By the time I was more than halfway through the book, I did find myself finally caring for the characters and quite interested in the story. And it seems as though the writing improved. It was as though the first style of writing was left behind, and I could finally grasp the story line. Speaking of the story line, the story in this novel is one that needs to be told. I have not ever read much about Native American prejudice, and I applaud the author for tackling this topic in a wonderful way. She also tackled other issues such as hate crimes against homosexuals and the struggles of those with mixed racial blood. Even in this day and age. I don't think I realized until reading this book how much these things still exist and are sometimes even acceptable in some societies. I would say that this book would appeal to young adults more than mature adult women like me. I struggled through the "overdone" romance scenes (I suppose I have become jaded in my older years), but I was grateful that there were no intimate details. I also appreciated the fact that the profanity was extremely limited--much better than most books I have read in recent times. I could have done without the big drinking scene, but again, that is just personal preference. I appreciated the history in the book concerning Native Americans and the Underground Railroad. Overall, I give this book a 3-star rating. While I did not always enjoy the style in which the book was written, the story itself is one that very few author would tackle. It is a story with lots of twists and turns, and it is told with real heart. Even though I cannot say it was my favorite book, I appreciated the story, and I believe that other people would as well. I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100 percent mine.
This is seriously a hard book for me to review. I think I'll start with the technical marks. Ms Sellers writes very well. The book is written in first person, present tense which can be a hard go for both reader and author. Actually, whenever I start an indie book and discover it is written from this point of view, I start to worry. Kudos to Stephanie Sellers, though, she pulls it off beautifully! A huge pet peeve for me is when writers inadvertently change POV as they write so it is something I watch carefully for. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't find one slip up in 'Black Purse'. It's possible the 4/5 I gave for readability/flow is a little chincy. It should likely be higher. The pages fly by. The interaction between the character is fast, smart and often funny. Strangely enough, here is where I first ran into trouble. There seems to be some kind of cultural gap between the characters in the novel (and so, likely the author) and me. There are some terms I was totally unfamiliar with. Not that I didn't understand the words, I just couldn' figure out the meaning of the words in the context of the conversation. I'm assuming they were colloquialisms of some sort that I was unfamiliar with. It also took me aback when the breasts of all of the female characters, became characters in the story in their own right. This doesn't just happen once, it continues. So whenever 'the girls' are mentioned, it is breasts that are referred to. For a book that is not one of the steamy hot romances out there, it was strange to me that ALL of the female characters were so breast obsessed. Which brings us to the characters. I liked the beginning of the book which throws the reader right into the action. No explanation or character development to begin with, but it grabs you and drags you right in. Unfortunately for the character development, Stephanie Sellers doesn't take time out of the action to do much in the line of character development as the story progresses either. The growth of the characters is obvious as the story progresses but I didn't get to know any of them well enough to connect with them. I wanted to be Exilee's friend but I always felt like the nerdy, awkward girl trying to get the cool kids to notice me. Basically, I would say that this is a very good book - one I could envision winning many awards - but not a book I particularily enjoyed. I felt like I was at a great party with some fascinating people, but everyone knew each other and I was left out of all the inside jokes. I was also excited to get into the part of the story that dealt with the underground railway, but that part of the story didn't show up until 200+ pages into the 331 pages of the book. When I finished the last page, I was left feeling ... OK. Not supremely excited or overly satisfied, just OK.