Thursday, September 27, 2012

Shades of Spring 1964: Letters to my Daughter By M.O Kenyan

Reviewed by Jacey.


Shades of Spring 1964: Letters to my daughterMaxine tries to deal with her mother’s death in her own way. But when she finds old letters revealing her family’s past she finds herself creating a bond with someone else, not knowing how far their history goes.
Taylor is amused and infuriated with Marine, and no matter how hard he tries he can’t stay away from her. Now he finds himself being her main supporter, the only one she can lean on as she travels back to the past. And when the past is resolved they now have to think of their futures, while they concentrate on their present


When picking this up, I was excited to be possibly delving into some historical fiction. It's something I hadn't done in a while, and I feel like many people need to look to our past in order to preserve the present and future. Even if it's not based on specific events, the feelings, opinions, and morals  within them and around them that help to construct a historical fiction are important reminders of our past. I also think the concept of merging the past and present (in this case, letters from one's grandmother to one's current interracial relationship) can be fascinating and has the potential to strum some heartstrings. 
This piece definitely had that potential, but it falls just short of connecting the past and present in a meaningful way. Maxine and Taylor are 20 year olds who go from hating each other to  having sex, who happen to be black and white. Maxine's grandmother on the other hand has a meaningful, full-fledged affair with Robert, and they are without a doubt in love. These two relationships do not seem to connect the past and present and emotionally have very little in common, except for the fact that both couples are interracial. They do both somewhat succeed at portraying the blurry line between what is lust and love, which I thought was fascinating. However I struggled to be on Maxine side sometimes when she would lash out at Taylor, accusing him of being a "womanizer" for trying to get her to write their report on African American Lit, even though she had suggested the same thing to begin with, and she had been the one to practically break into his apartment and stumble upon him naked (though admittedly, that scene where she kicks in the door accidentally was pretty funny). Really then, there was no wonder things were getting confusing. I thought this book could have been longer, so the author could flesh out the relationship between Maxine and Taylor and the characters themselves. Moments where Maxine could have come out more about her feelings surrounding her mom's death were opted out for sex scene. Though the sex were pretty well done in this, I empathized more with the scenes where Maxine witnessed her mother's departure from this world. Overall, I think the relationship between Maxine and Taylor was rushed and built upon assumptions; even more noticeably, I felt that the flashbacks to the past needed a lot more research. In the first few sentences where it mentions Kristen seeing steam boats in 1964, the only way she's be able to really catch a glimpse of a steam boat at the time would be if she was near a tourist site, as most steam boats stopped being used commonly by the end of the 20th century. Furthermore, I felt that the author had merged the 19th and 20th century together. Some settings appeared to be from the 1800's while others seemed to be from the 20th century. In general, I don't think the letters accurately depicted 1964. Ultimately, I think if this story was lengthened and more research was carried out, I would read it again.        

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