December 22, 2019
Celebrating a Bookish Hanukkah With Our Jewish Friends: First Candle–All Alone
*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
I’m linking up today and for the next seven days with The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog (information on the meme link up here) to celebrate a bookish Hanukkah with our Jewish friends. #eightcandlebooktag Join us!
Happy Hanukkah to my friends, followers, and book buddies who are celebrating!
First Candle: All Alone
A book you love, but one that no one else seems to know anything about.
One book that comes to mind for today’s topic is The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe. Have you heard of it? I loved it when I read it, but I don’t know anyone else who has read it. Let me know in the comments!
The Gilded Years shares the important and compelling experiences of Anita Hemmings and her dream of attending an exclusive school for women, Vassar College, in the late 1890s. To accomplish this extraordinary feat and pursue her chance for a better life, Anita must pass for white. It is interesting to me how her family and community support her in the implementation of her decision and work to protect her as she lives it out. At first, Anita maintains a distance from her college peers. However, as the years pass and Anita becomes friends with her socialite roommate from a prominent family in New York, the risk of discovery grows greater. Can she maintain her assumed identify? Will she graduate?
For me, the most interesting part of The Gilded Years is the tension that develops between Anita and one of her dear friends who decides to live fully as an African-American, embrace her ethnic identity and heritage, and openly fight for equal rights. Which one of the young women chose the best path? Both decisions are difficult in their own ways and filled with sacrifices and joys. Through their two stories, the reader is presented with two viewpoints and experiences. What would you or I have done given that choice? Which choice helped further equal treatment for African-Americans? Was Anita’s choice a set back for African Americans? Or did she have every right to think of her own life first? Did her success as a student help the African-American cause by proving that an African-American can compete equally at Vassar?
Although The Gilded Years is compelling and emotional, the writing could be stronger. For me, a captivating story that addresses strong themes of hope, sacrifice, betrayal, loyalty, family, taking risks, life choices, and friendship makes for a memorable, important, and inspiring read. It would generate an excellent book club discussion and make a great movie!
I highly recommend The Gilded Years for readers looking for an inspirational and interesting read in anticipation of February’s African-American History Month, for readers who enjoy compelling stories about strong, brave, independent women, for book clubs, and for readers who enjoy diverse reads and stories written from a different perspective.
Amazon Rating (December): 4.2 Stars
My Rating: 4 stars
Meet the Author, Karin Tanabe
Karin Tanabe is a fiction writer and former Politico reporter whose writing has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, and The Washington Post among many other publications. Before turning to fiction, Karin worked as a journalist covering politics and celebrities. She has made frequent appearances on Entertainment Tonight, Inside Edition and CNN. A graduate of Vassar College, she lives in Washington D.C.
Have you heard of this book?
Have you read The Gilded Years?
I have finished my Fall TBR!
(just in time to begin my Winter TBR!)
Happy Reading Book Buddies!
“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke
“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes
“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text
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Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.
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