READ THIS! {The Kitchen House}

Happy last day of November! I am so excited to dive in December - spending so much time friends, finishing up some big projects, embarking on new adventures and celebrating all of the great things in life right now! I am looking forward to cozy nights with Josh, weekend dinners with friends, and spending time in New Jersey with some very missed and much loved people. But of course, we can't dive into December without reviewing November's READ THIS! novel, The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom.

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I was so glad to pick this book up and to fall into the story so quickly. With it's charm and strong prose, I felt connected to all of the characters and the story tugged at my heart strings and pulled me in deeper with the turn of each page. 

Amazon described the book as, "When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family. Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin. Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction. Lavinia finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds. When she is forced to make a choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk. The Kitchen House is a tragic story of page-turning suspense, exploring the meaning of family, where love and loyalty prevail."

Told through both Lavinia and Belle, this story was strengthened by the tale woven by these two very different narrators - one Black and one White - growing up in different worlds on the same plantation and, at times, under the same roof. One of the most interesting pieces of the story is the juxtaposition of slavery and indentured servitude - as Grissom asks her readers to view the realities of both systems. The detail with which scenes throughout the novel are described allowed me to feel as though the circumstances were real and that I was sitting across the room from these wonderful characters. Clearly well-researched, and well-written, The Kitchen House explores a human side of this history that we do not often see. I recommend it to anyone looking to fall in love with good characters or eager to read a book that you will have trouble putting down. 

Have you read The Kitchen House? Were you more drawn to Lavinia or Belle? And do you think that their strongest characteristics supported them or ultimately failed them in the end? I'd love to hear what you thought!

And now, I'd like to introduce December's READ THIS! book, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz.

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This novel, released a little over 4 years ago, is described by Amazon as, "Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who—from the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother and rebellious sister—dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, finding love. But Oscar may never get what he wants. Blame the fuk├║—a curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, following them on their epic journey from Santo Domingo to the USA. Encapsulating Dominican-American history, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao opens our eyes to an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and explores the endless human capacity to persevere—and risk it all—in the name of love."

I am so excited to finally read this novel - it's been on my to read list for as long as I can remember and I cannot wait to explore this exciting story. I do hope you'll read along with me and stop back in at the end of the month for the final book review and discussion! 
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