Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “Alice Hoffman”

loveallthis’s #cbr4 reviews 06, 07, 08: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, The Wee Free Men, The Dovekeepers


(cross-posted from my blog.)

06 / The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

So, this was incredibly charming. I haven’t read much of Alexie’s fiction, though I enjoy the smart, snarky, understanding voice in his nonfiction and journalism.

The plot doesn’t much matter in this book: Junior lives on the Spokane Indian reservation, but he goes to school with a bunch of white kids. Hilarity, depression, struggle, heartbreak, and triumph ensue.

I’d gift this book to a kid about Junior’s age – it’s a funny, sweet, yet mature look at what it means to be a kid who seriously doesn’t fit the mold.

Four stars. Totally enjoyable.

07 / The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

Hoo boy, I did not like this book. I’m all for fantasy, but give me some stakes. “I live in a world you don’t care about! Wait! Little people!” (For magical little people done weird but right, check my upcoming review of 1Q84.)

I felt terrible, since Pratchett’s supposed to be fantastic, and what kind of nerd am I, etc. etc. but I had to skim to finish this one.

One star. Not for me.

08 / The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

I was so excited to read this book: my mom, an avid reader and total stacks-of-books-by-the-bed, weekly-library-trips inspiration, recommended it highly. I was taking an upcoming trip to Israel and knew I’d visit Masada. The stars were aligned.

Nope! This was so boring! What’s going on? Boooo, Alice Hoffman. Boo.

Lots of desert wandering, lots of sleeping with people you shouldn’t (and just in a sad way, not in a sexy way), lots of kids dying. Bad streak: had to skim to finish this one too.

Two stars for the doves. It’s not history class.

HelloKatieO’s #CBR4 Review #36: The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

I’ve been tabling this review because I truly loved this book, and I’m not sure how to review it in a way that does it justice.  The Dovekeepers is a work of historical fiction that tells the tale of the Jewish resistance during the Roman’s siege of Masada in the first century.  900 Jewish men and women held out against the Romans for months, and ultimately, 2 women and 5 children survived.  Hoffman used meticulous research to weave a mystical tale of desire, family and friendship that gives a voice to the women who participated in the siege.

The book is told in four pieces.  Yael is the lion, a young girl who’s mother died in child birth who flees her home city with her assassin father and her brother’s best friend. Her illicit romance, her betrayal of her confidant, and her seeemingly magical ability to attract both humans and animals with her silence is oddly compelling.  Revka, the baker’s wife, serves partially to set up the romance of the book but also as proof of a mother’s capacity for vengeance.  Aziza is a warrior, disguising herself as a boy to defend her people and falling in love with a man everyone else thought was broken. Shirah is a “witch” of sorts, who uses her powers for good – like aiding women giving birth to illegitimate children – and her own ends – like protecting her children or ruining her lover’s wive’s life.


Lsuemcd’s #CBR4 Review #1: The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

The Dovekeepers is sweeping fictional account of four women during the Roman invasion of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. culminating in the brutal siege of Masada in 73 C.E. While the timeline and framework of the story is grounded in historical fact, the context of each character’s life is richly imagined and embellished by Hoffman, and the result is a deeply moving and engaging read; both for the character’s development and the rich historical accounts.

The novel begins with the story of Yael, the assassin’s daughter, and her family’s pilgrimage to Masada. When Yael arrives at the great fortress, we are then introduced to the women we will soon know: Revka, the baker’s wife; Aziza, the warrior’s beloved; and finally Shirah, the witch of Moab.  As each woman’s story unfolds the reader discovers who she was and how she has become the person she is. Hoffman switches the protagonist four times throughout the novel, thus each woman’s distinct voice is realized by the reader. This results in a truer understanding of the woman, but sometimes it occurs at the expense of other character’s development. Hoffman’s character development and storytelling is so robust that you beg to know more about each person you discover. Unfortunately, some of them you never get to know beyond the protagonist’s observations.

Hoffman does bring a stronger overarching theme to her tale: in the end we all fight to live. While we may suffer great tragedy, hardship, and loss at the hands of others, our survival will sometimes come at the expense of another’s suffering, “we are considered giants by some and ants to be stepped on by others.”  It is a story worth reading; the kind of novel you will find yourself telling people about, and the kind of novel you may just read again to dig deeper and see if you can catch Hoffman’s rich details and foreshadowing the second time around.


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