Vianvi Podcast Book Review 15 of 2017 by Viga Boland, Author & Reviewer
Some books, like some movies, are unforgettable. Hosanna by Katelyne Parker is one of those.
Set in Georgia in the 1920’s, Hosanna gives those unfamiliar with the life of those times, a disturbing macro view into the hearts, minds and souls of those caught in what appeared to be an unbridgeable gap between the entitled whites and the enslaved blacks. It’s a gap that can’t be closed, except in the mind of one very determined, often bitterly hostile young woman, Hosanna, born to a white mother and a black father. At a still young age, when she learns the truth about her birth parents, she begins the fight for what she sees as her rights, often alienating even those who do love her by her refusal to accept what other black people have learned is the only way to survive in a white person’s society. Does she win her battle and if so, how long does it take? It’s wanting to find out that will keep readers absorbed until the last page of Hosanna has been turned.
As we read, it’s often very difficult to remember that Hosanna is not a memoir, but a novel. It’s all written in the first person and rings with such incredible authenticity that one has to wonder if it’s not semi-autobiographical, or at the very least, a fictional rendering of the recollections of someone in Katelyne Parker’s family. For some, the vernacular used by Mother Hill in the opening to the narrative may take some getting used to, but it’s enchanting and helps the reader visualize the speaker and feel her fear even more, drawing us immediately into the story. When her narrative is taken over by Hosanna herself, the going is somewhat easier but no less powerful. Hosanna and everyone around her springs to life like characters on a screen, so skillfully does Katelyne Parker deliver their dialogue. Readers hate when Hosanna hates. We hurt when she hurts as she scrubs floors or is being whipped into subservience. We redden with her humiliation at being demeaned and dismissed by her white grandmother. And when she loses her beloved Mother Hill, the only real mother she knows, since her own mother is incapable of acknowledging her, our hearts break with hers. Though at times, Hosanna seems more drawn out than necessary, the characters and events are so riveting one is compelled to keep reading.
Katelyne Parker is the recipient of several awards for Hosanna, and deservedly so. This book would make an enthralling movie. If readers visit the author’s website at www.katelyneparker.com, there is a book trailer worth watching. Perhaps a movie will follow? After all, Hosanna is powerful, evocative writing and won’t easily be forgotten.
Author’s comments on my review:
Wow! When you take the time to write a book, you’re hoping and praying your readers would take the time to see the merit in it. I feel Viga Boland gave Hosanna her time. If anyone is on the fence about reading Hosanna, Viga’s critique would certainly help a potential reader make a decision. It’s hard to have your work critiqued, but I believe Viga handled Hosanna with care and she summarized it artfully. I’m so relieved by this review and believe it will make a difference in informing readers of its value. I feel great! Thank you so much Viga for being a deeply honest and thoughtful reviewer.
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