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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Maddie’s Library: Winter break reading review

In+the+Time+of+the+Butterflies+takes+place+in+20th+century+Dominican+Republic.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Goodreads%29
“In the Time of the Butterflies” takes place in 20th century Dominican Republic. (Photo courtesy of Goodreads)

My bookworm friends and I spent this winter break on a tour of our hometown’s coffee shops conducting an extremely scientific experiment to figure out which has the best reading ambiance. The test results? Inconclusive. The product? Lots of books checked off my TBR.

The Best Book of Break: “In the Time of the Butterflies” by Julia Alvarez
This book has gained classic status since its release in 1994 and for good reason. This was my first read of the new year, and it started me out on the highest of notes. The book tracks the political and personal lives of the four fictionalized Mirabal sisters who become leading opponents of the Trujillo regime in the Dominican Republic. I connected to these characters so deeply, and I’m still thinking about Alvarez’s vision of sisterhood and the power of love as a political motivator. If you see me on campus, ask me about my connection between the Mirabal sisters and the March sisters from “Little Women.”

Most Thought-Provoking: “Do You Remember Being Born?” by Sean Michaels
Michaels’ book follows Marian, a prominent 75-year-old poet, who takes a job collaborating with an AI model to create the world’s first poem produced by a non-human entity. The story has its flaws, particularly at the end, but nonetheless, it’s quite brilliant. It includes real AI-generated excerpts, and it made me feel smarter for having read it — it’s been a long time since I had to stop reading a book to look up the definition of a word. Marian’s musings on the nature of education, love and, most notably, poetry and creative production, will have me pondering for a while.

Best Quick Read: “Ring Shout” by P. Djèlí Clark
If you’re looking for an engrossing read that’s under 200 pages, “Ring Shout” is for you. Main character Maryse and her squad of freedom fighters go up against supernatural forces in the form of demonic Ku Kluxes, their name for Klan members whose bodies have been taken over by something even more sinister. Clark weaves elements of Shakespeare, Greek myth and the folk hero journey flawlessly in a 20th century American setting for an interesting and unexpected narrative.

Most Disappointing: “None of This is True” by Lisa Jewell
I gave this book two stars, and if you know anything about my rating process, that’s a very difficult distinction to earn. I listened to this as an audiobook, and though I enjoyed the way the British narrator said the word “podcast,” I don’t even know how to quantify my level of disappointment in this book. The concept of a podcaster sucked into her own true crime story intrigued me, but it was poorly executed; it felt like the story didn’t even start until halfway through, and the lack of resolution made my blood boil. I understand that Jewell did this on purpose as a comment on the nature of truth, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I don’t think it makes for good reading, and it’s arguably lazy for a thriller author to use that as a cop-out.

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About the Contributor
Madeline Marriott, Editor-in-Chief
Maddie (she/her) is a senior English major with a Government & Law minor. As the Editor-in-Chief, a Mentor Writing Associate, a Senior Student Contributor for Lafayette Communications, a Communications Intern for the Office of Sustainability, co-founder and Vice President of English Club, and a Senior Interviewer for Lafayette Admissions, no writing happens on campus without her knowing about it. Her Google Calendar would make your head spin. She is a die-hard Swiftie and Phillies fan, a collector of tote bags, a builder of a Hay Day empire, and an avid Goodreads and Letterboxd user. She smokes cigars and uses an old-timey typewriter and notepad in the newsroom.

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