Monday, September 11, 2017

Book Review: Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez

Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez book cover and review
Out of Darkness is not really a book about the school explosion that happened in east Texas in 1937.  It's a story about a family in turmoil before and after the explosion. It was just a bit unexpected. Granted, the blurb says "a multilayered tale," but I don't usually pay too much attention to descriptions.

We experience the horror of the explosion at the beginning of the book, then we are taken back about six months to get to know our victims.  Naomi has just been brought to live with her stepfather, Henry.  She has a sister and brother who are twins and are biological children of Henry.  Her mother died shortly after the twins' birth and they have been living with grandparents.

Henry is doing well digging for oil and he has found God.  He is convinced by his preacher that God wants him to bring his children to live with him, so he does.  There are separate schools for black and white kids.  Since the twins and Henry are white, Naomi, who is Mexican, goes to the white school. She meets an African American boy named Wash.  He begins spending a lot of time with the twins, and eventually, he and Naomi begin a secret romantic relationship.

Things get more and more complicated for Naomi and Wash, and that's pretty much all I want to say about the plot.  At about 300 pages, the explosion occurs and we get more details about it, but we still move on from that very quickly.

This is not a happy book.  Throughout the entire narrative, Naomi is struggling.  And we know what is coming.  And when it comes, don't expect a "happily ever after."  It's been a long time since I've read a book that really had no uplifting qualities.  It was written well, and the characters and situations were interesting.  But I am really glad to be finished, and I find myself a bit angry at   Pérez. I need to move on.  I woke up early this morning thinking about this story,  and I still feel a bit sick when I do.

So, do I recommend Out of Darkness? Well, given the previous paragraph, I'll leave it up to you.

Published by Carolrhoda, 2015
Copy obtained from the library
401 pages

Rating: 3.5/5

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  1. I read this book after it won a Printz Honor award. I, too, felt very discouraged after completing it. One take-away...government is needed to save us from greedy owners who don't want to spend the money on safety concerns.

  2. Interesting..I had the opposite reaction. I loved this book because it was so raw and unapologetic. It does feel like a punch in the gut. Surprisingly, it was my book club's favorite pick. Did Perez have to go that far in the end to prove her point? Absolutely not, but I don't see how this could have ended happily.

  3. I haven't read anything for a month, it definitely feels wrong. And I am so behind on reading other people's blogs. Today is a catch up day now that the AVON walk is done. This book sounds intense; right now I need uplifting books so I think I am going to find some YA fluff to read.

  4. Interesting. I liked but didn't love Perez's first novel. It was very raw and brutally honest, but not as depressing as this one sounds. I think I'll give it a go anyway.


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