Book #16: Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline: [2 stars]
Very weird, this book. It’s supposed to be about the contrast in the foster care system now vs a hundred years ago, when kids were apparently shipped across the country in trains (literally) to be delivered as farm hands to random families. I guess this was the premise of Anne of Green Gables, but I never really thought about that period in social history, so that was good, I guess. But the writing was stilted and characters wooden. This could have been a good American Girl book, and even that’s pushing it. But as grown-up literature? No thanks.
Book 17: Learning to Bow, by Bruce Feiler [2 stars]
An American dude goes to Japan to teach English and essentially writes an anthropological text on Japanese society. Mr Feiler clearly has a lot of respect for Japanese culture, and does a good job of viewing it with distance and awe. But I had no sense of HIM as a person … I guess that’s the point of anthro, but I’ve had enough narrative to know that there is always a bias, unconscious or not, and Mr Feiler comes across as so objective (falsely so) that its hard to care much about him and his book. The sections on him struggling to teach and engage his class were great. The ones about how many honorifics to include in a Japanese letter, meh.