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Clif's Book World

Adventures from reading books captured within short reviews.

Bleeding Kansas

Bleeding Kansas - Sara Paretsky, Susan Ericksen A quotation from the book that caught my attention:
"The hardest thing about adolescence is that everything seems too big. There's no way to get context or perspective, ..... Pain and joy without limits. No one can live like that forever, so experience finally comes to our rescue. We come to know what we can endure, and also that nothing endures." This is spoken by a high school English teacher to a student who has lost interest in school because of personal problems. In the context of the story she seems like the teacher sent from heaven. This is an example of touching the future by being a teacher.

Excerpt from the book:
"Mute wife behind him, distraught daughter in front of him, him in the middle." This is a description of a man struggling to hold his family life together.

Another Excerpt:
"When Jesus returns in glory, it just may be due to local farmer .....". This is from a newspaper article announcing the appearance of the "perfect red heifer" described by the biblical book of Numbers.

The book is about how history and various religions interact in a current rural Kansas setting. The narrative brings together the following religions (or world views) in a story with numerous conflicts and misunderstandings; (1) Liberal Christian (open & accepting), (2) Conservative Christian (fire & brimstone), (3) Wiccan (witchcraft), (4) No Religion (poor white trash), (5) Ultraorthodox Jewish (rebuild the temple), and (6) Religious Skeptic (homeless alcoholic leftover from the 60's hippie scene). The book contains flashbacks to the Civil War "Bleeding Kansas" era as well as ties to the antiwar riots in of city of Lawrence and on the KU campus that occurred in the late 1960s. Everybody in the story has problems they need to face which provides plenty of tension and suspense for the plot line. However, the tale of the unblemished red heifer is so filled with irony and humor it caused me to laugh out loud. The story ends with some adrenalin pumping excitement. It's a heck of a story.

Paretsky's writing is well done. That's why I placed excerpts from the book first in this review. They're better than anything I can say about the book.