Thursday, February 8, 2007

Copper Sun

I like to listen to two books simultaneously -- one in the CD player (portable and housebound) and one in the tape player (mostly in the bathroom -- hey, one spends a certain amount of time there! -- and in the car).

And, I've found that while I have a terrible time tracking which of two books I may be reading simultaneously (and so I never do it), it's easy with that external narrator telling the story.

So, while wallowing in thwarted eternal romance with Bella and Edward, I've also been suffering the Middle Passage (and subsequent slavery in colonial America) with a young woman named Amari in Sharon M. Draper's Copper Sun.

Let me say up front that I haven't liked Draper's books so far, and this one too often feels like a history lesson. Draper seemingly had to put everything she knew about the colonial slave trade into Amari's story. And Amari suffers for it. She's an archetype, not a person, and so it's extremely hard to get emotionally wrapped up in her story. And considering what happens to her, keeping such a distance is a drawback.

Narrator Myra Lucretia Taylor does her best, though. She reads with plenty of emotion (and the occasional tendency to get louder as a scene grows more dramatic). I think she chooses to advertise "important" messages of the book with her voice. Listen here! she seems to be saying. On the other hand, her characterizations of Amari, the white indentured servant girl Polly who becomes her friend, and Teeny (oh I think I'm forgetting her name) the cook at the plantation where Amari is enslaved, all feel distinct and authentic -- fitfully bringing this didactic story to life.

I'm reserving judgement on this one -- a maybe vote. I'll be interested in what my fellow committee members think.

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