A few weeks ago, I came across Judey Kalchik’s post about creating haiku with the subject of the poem being a book review. I’ve written a few book reviews, but they were more on the long-form side to fit work as assignments for when I was in my MFA program. And while I’ve wanted to continue writing book reviews, my brain has supplied me with many distractions and worries to keep me from digging into serious book reviewing.
However, Judey’s challenge and Vocal’s new community BookClub have helped give me the resolve I needed. And if you haven’t seen Judey’s book review-haiku post yet, please check it out!
So, here are two book review haiku!
Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with the Pearl Earring
Is circumstance all
the difference between hope
I finally read this novel a few weeks ago. I’d heard about it when I was still in high school, I think. I’d seen reviews that weren’t too favorable toward it. Not necessarily bad reviews, just not glowing ones.
By the end of the novel, I’d decided I really didn‘t enjoy it. There were so many interesting elements: Griet’s voice full of figurative language and imagery, the historical setting of 17th century Holland, a surprising-to-me antagonist.
And yet, the ending felt a little…hollow? If there was intention for the ending to be empowering, I didn’t get that. Perhaps it was meant to be bittersweet? If you’ve read the novel or seen the movie based on it, I would love to hear your thoughts! (I hope I’m not spoiling too much here.)
Honestly, most of my critiques are just preference-based. I’ve come to realize that, while I love stories full of emotional roller coasters, I especially enjoy hopeful endings. There were many waves of sadness throughout the novel, but that hopeful ending eluded me here. And maybe that was the point. Maybe it truly was showing a lesson in circumstance, how poverty often forces one’s hand.
Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove
Remind me. The sad
seasons pass when bolstered by
On the other hand, A Man Called Ove has an emotionality I hope to once convey in my own pieces. I adore it.
It has been years since I read it (I think I was in college), but I just recently lent my copy to my aunt so she could read it.
She loved it (and is now working her way through my collection of Fredrick Backman’s novels). Seeing her adoration of it resparked my own, so I had to make a haiku for it as well.
I enjoy humor, but this was perhaps the first novel outside of the middle grade and young adult books I read when I was younger that managed to consistently keep me entranced and giggling at the characters. Fredrik Backman is super gifted in nailing the narrative voices of his novels, and this one especially so (as well as My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry).
Moreover, I really appreciate the handling of sadness and grief in this novel. The use of humor helps gives these moments of sadness an emotional payoff in me as a reader. But its not just the humor that helps to achieve this payoff. It is the ‘togetherness’ I mentioned in the haiku. Ove alone is a good character. It is when he is put into situations with the other characters that he becomes an even better character.
These novels are, in many ways, on opposite ends of the spectrum. One is historical fiction and the other is contemporary fiction. One centers on a teenage girl and the other an older man. However, they connect in that they both describe hardships and very human reactions to those hardships. In my opinion, Ove is the only main character between these novels to truly become stronger (content) from those trials.
About the Creator
Hello! I'm mostly a writer of fiction and poetry that tend to involve nature, family, and the idea of growth at the moment. Otherwise, I'm a reader, crafter, and full-time procrastinator!
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Original narrative & well developed characters
Expert insights and opinions
Arguments were carefully researched and presented
Niche topic & fresh perspectives
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions
Zero grammar & spelling mistakes