professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Frazzled but still reading

Let's see, in the past 24 hours I have driven about 200 miles between home and campus and the airport and campus and home and campus. Today, we interviewed another of our candidates for an Assistant Professor position in the department. I have a few minutes to blog the book I read while NOT in transit yesterday.

I am a huge fan of Margarita Engle's books most notably THE SURRENDER TREE, so when I saw her new book from Holt (2010), THE FIREFLY LETTERS, I snatched it and put it in my purse. I have read it in snatches and brief quiet moments. But I know I will read it again in one fell swoop when life settles down a bit because I want to savor the words more slowly, taste the language a bite at a time, mark passages, read them aloud...I want to spend time with this book.

Here is the story (told in verse) of Frederika Bremer, a young woman who traveled to Cuba from her native Sweden. There she met women for whom the freedom to travel was only an illusory dream: slaves and even the wives and daughters of the wealthy had expectations and limitations. Bremer wrote about these women in hopes of helping them achieve their dreams. That is the heart of the story. But the SOUL is the soaring verse novel woven by Engle as she tells from three perspectives about life for women in Cuba: Frederika, a slave named Cecilia, and the daughter of a wealthy man, Elena. These three voices form a chorus, a calling out that resonates with me. It does not strike a chord simply to the feminist in me, but to the mother I have been and the daughter I have been and the dreamer I continue to be.

Pre-order it now. You will thank me later.
Tags: cuba, engle, novels in verse
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