Friday, November 16, 2012

No Crystal Stair

No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller. Vaunda Micheaux Nelson. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. 2012. Lerner. 188 pages. 

There were a few times when No Crystal Stair amazed me, and definitely there were times I found it interesting or fascinating. But. I didn't love this one enough to gush about it. It is a uniquely told story told in fragments, fragments which make for quick reading, for the most part. But also the fragments kept me separated, in a way, from the main character(s). It was a respectful distance. Readers meet an inspirational man with a big dream and determination to match it. A man convinced that books could make a difference, that is READING books could make a difference, that knowledge improves lives. The book chronicles his early life and comes to focus on his great success as a one-of-a-kind bookseller, owning a bookstore focusing exclusively on books written by African Americans or about African Americans. For those interested in race relations in the twentieth century--especially in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s--this one could easily be considered a must read.  

Read No Crystal Stair
  • If you are looking for a fictional novel based on true people and events
  • If you are looking for an unusual, often brilliant, portrait of a man and the times in which he lived
  • If you are looking to learn more about the Harlem Renaissance OR the Civil Rights movement

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

3 comments:

Amy @ Hope Is the Word 9:09 PM  

I've been curious about this one since I've seen it bandied about as a Newbery contender. Thanks for the review!

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Vasilly 9:26 PM  

I read this book earlier this year and really loved it. I'm glad you read it. Happy Thanksgiving!

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I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
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4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
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