Sunday, September 8, 2013

New review for "Massachusetts, California, Timbuktu"

Massachusetts, California, TimbuktuMassachusetts, California, Timbuktu by Stephanie Rosenfeld
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really liked this book. As others said this is the story of a girl who has to take care of herself, her younger sister, and her mother who is emotionally unstable. The author starts her story in California and moves them to the Amherst/Northampton area of Massachusetts. There is a sub-story where the narrator is doing a school assignment. She writes a pioneer story moving her characters from east to west. I was tempted to skip over this sub-story until I realized how much it was ingrained in the main story.

I found this book because I was looking for a story that used western Massachusetts as it's location. So for me, a western Mass local, it was fun to read and see how the author mixed up real places and fictionalized them. If you know the area you will recognize that she took places that are in Northampton and put them in Amherst for example. There is of course the disclaimer that this is a book of fiction so yes, she can do as she wants and that's part of the fun for me of reading it. The author herself did live in the Amherst area while going to UMass Amherst so she has some familiarity with the area. She's also lived in California, and I don't know where else. So she was able to draw on her memories and experiences for the settings.

Second, I grew up with a dysfunctional mother and a younger sibling, like a lot of people did. Now my mother didn't do ALL the things that happened in this story, but she did do some of them. So I could really relate to the characters and as tough as it was to read, it was good writing. I cried more than once.

I read a library copy, but I plan to buy a used copy so I can go back to it at my leisure again and again.

From what I can tell, the author has only published one other book besides this one. I haven't read it. She has a unique voice and I really enjoyed her writing here.

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