Friday, May 04, 2007


Lester, Julius. 2007. Cupid.

Cupid reminded me of why Julius Lester is so incredible. I had almost forgotten after the torture of his last book, Time's Memory (2006). Just read his opening paragraphs and dare you not to be hooked:

A long time ago, when Time was still winding its watch and Sun was trying to figure out which was east and which was west, there was a king and queen. I don't know what country they were were king and queen of. That information was not in the story when it came down to me. Sometimes, stories don't understand; what may not be important to them is very important to us.
Now I'm sure there are people who can tell this particular story without having a name for the kingdom this king and queen ruled. Jupiter bless them. I guess I'm not that good of a storyteller, because I need a name for the kingdom. I asked the story if it would mind my giving the place a name. It didn't see any harm in it, so I am going to call it the Kingdom-by-the-Great-Blue-Sea.
The story also does not have names for the king and queen. I know they had names, but nobody would say to them, "What's up, Chuck?" or say, "Looky here, Liz," if those happened to be their names. I am in agreement with the story this time. If nobody could use their names, there is no need to have them in the story. As for what the king and queen called each other, they were probably like any other married couple and he called her "Honey" and "Sweetheart," and she called him "Good Lips" and things like that, which we don't need to pursue any further.
The king and queen had three daughters. I know what you are thinking: the daughters didn't have names, either. That is partly true. Two of the girls were name-naked. I'm not even into the story yet and already we have four people that the Internal Revenue Service could not send a letter to.

The lyrical storytelling continues as the narrator reveals the story's main focus: the king's third daughter, Psyche. (The one who was not name-naked.) I tried to write something that would give you an idea of how beautiful she was, but the letters of the alphabet got so confused and jumbled up trying to arrange themselves into words to describe someone for whom there were no words, they ended up crying in frustration. I hate trying to make words out of letters that have been crying and are so wet they can't stay on the page. Later on in the story, after the letters dry off, I'll try again to arrange them into enough words so you'll have some idea of what Psyche looked like. For now you'll just have to believe me when I say she was the most beautiful woman in the world (3). One problem of being the most beautiful woman in the world, besides loneliness, is jealousy. Who should be jealous of our young princess other than the great goddess of love herself, Venus.

Yes, Venus is jealous. She wants revenge. She wants it now. And who better to deliver it than her winged son, Cupid? Cupid's mission? To make Psyche fall in love with someone she shouldn't. Someone ridiculously ugly or inappropriate. Or some inanimate object, perhaps. Anything to bring shame on the mortal girl will do in Venus' opinion.

Cupid is the story of what happens when this "god of love" falls madly in love himself. Cupid did not understand what had happened to him. If you think about it, that's kind of funny. He was the god of love, but he had never been in love. Love had been a game to him, a game that he controlled with his bow and arrows. But after he saw Psyche, his life would never be again what it had been. (30) Like me and like you, Cupid accepted that it was not only possible but rational to love someone to whom he had not spoken--to love someone whose voice he had heard, whose face he had seen for, what? Five minutes? Ten? Certainly no more than that. Yet, this was all it took for him to feel as if he could lift mountains, polish stars, and hold the sun in his hands (35).

But love is never easy. Especially if it's true. One thing is clear. Cupid must choose between his mother and his new love. Who will he choose? What will he do to prove himself to his new love? After all, she doesn't know him. She doesn't love him. His love is a secret.

The power of love. The mystery of beauty. The wrath of gods and goddesses. Cupid is a great piece of storytelling. In the author's note, the readers learn Julius Lester's goal: to retell the story, but in the voice of a Southern black storyteller (193). This story was originally told by Lucius Apuleius in The Golden Ass.
Cupid and Psyche
Wikipedia Cupid and Psyche
(Yet another page about) Cupid and Psyche


Erin 12:23 PM  

Sounds like fun!

Ana S. 5:39 PM  

Oh my, I AM hooked! That sounds wonderful!

Cupid & Psyche is one of my very favourite stories, and I love fairy tales with a similar theme. This retelling sounds like something I absolutely cannot miss!

Marina 12:19 PM  

Great review! You gave just enough text to hear the flavor of writing, and I could certainly hear the teller's voice. This one's going on my "library" list.

Post a Comment

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.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
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.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge
Linked to sign up page

Family Tree Reading Challenge

Family Tree Reading Challenge
Link to sign-up page

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge
Linked To Sign Up Page

2018 Charity Challenge (Sign Up)

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge
Link to sign up page

2018 Picture Book Challenge

2018 Picture Book Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge
click image to go to sign up post

Good Rules Cheat List

Board books and picture books = new is anything published after 2013
Early readers and chapter books = new is anything published after 2013
Contemporary (general/realistic) = new is anything published after 2007
Speculative fiction (sci-fi/fantasy = new is anything published after 2007
Classics = anything published before 1968
Historical fiction = new is anything published after 2007
Mysteries = new is anything published after 1988
Nonfiction = new is anything published after 2007
Christian books = new is anything published after 2000
Bibles = new is anything published after 1989

My Blog List

(Old) Challenge Participants

Becky's Hosting These Challenges

100 Books Project: Fill in the Gaps

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP