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Diane Setterfield
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Iris Murdoch, Mary Kinzie
The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck I never wanted to read this book. Boring, non-sense title, too recent history, dislike of modern authors- need any more excuses? Well, this was another of my mom's favorites that I felt obligated to read and as is the burgeoning pattern, she was right. Again.

I am from Oklahoma, my great grandmother lived through the dust bowl, and this is my history. After reading this, I'm even more proud to call myself an Okie. It was originally a derogative term, but I think they got it wrong. The Okies may have been displaced, dirty, poor and unwanted- but they were fighters who believed in the sacredness of family, pride and work. They were put down, kicked, and starved- but they fought hard for their survival and I don't think there is anything dishonorable about that.

This all came out in The Grapes of Wrath, in the earthy characters of the Joad family and the other good but put-out people they met. I thought it was especially poignant considering what is going on economically now. We have made a full circle straight back to the time period being written about. You could easily update the story by changing the professions, but little else need be touched. Disheartening, if you let it be.

As to the book; it is written with long chapters encapsulating story telling about the family's travails, followed by shorter, wispy descriptions the atmosphere in which it all takes place. How others in society are finding things, the weather conditions that are relevant to what is going on, etc. It gives great depth to your understanding of what is happening even if you previously knew nothing about the era. The book is absolutely complete if you want to know about the subject.

What isn't complete is the saga of the family. I got so into the story that I wanted to know if they ever escaped their predicament. As I got near the end of the book, I realized I was not going to find out how people came out the end. I thought maybe there would be a clue as to how we, today, would find the light at the end of the tunnel, but there was no answer- except that we are all still here after this happened to our ancestors, meaning we survive. Even without answers, the ending was a shock for me. I have to admit to being repulsed at the last scene. The action left me sick to my stomach, for what was physically happening, but if you can get over that you realize it was well intentioned and noble, I suppose. Someone giving the very last thing they have to help someone else survive. The story is worth every one of those five stars. If you think you aren't interested, read it anyway.