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Book of Harlan, The MP3 CD – Audiobook, September 20, 2016
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MP3 CD, Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged
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In _Harlan_, McFadden takes on not just our collective past--World War II, the pre-war Harlem music scene, Black Paris--but also her own ancestral one. The story she tells is remarkable. In fact, another amazon reviewer said it's hard to know fact from fiction in this book. No doubt, there are moments when we wonder whether all of these events are even plausible, whether one person could really experience that much during a single lifetime. But that's just the point. It's not one lifetime; it's many. Harlan is not just a person--he's a nexus that joins the people he knew and loved to those he never knew or lost too soon.
There are surprises in this book. One twist in particular I didn't see coming. Read it for that. Or read it because Harlan is such a genuine human being: faulty, lovable, frustrating, unfinished. And then go find some of McFadden's other books. You won't be disappointed.
Harlan builds a life out of his music that takes him places, though his parents’ home in Harlem remains the heart of it all. In Harlem he meets his “brother from another mother,” Lizard, brushes shoulders with jazz greats like Louis Armstrong, drinks endlessly, smokes pot, sleeps with women, plays his guitar.
In the midst of all this living there’s tragedy. In youth and in adulthood come events so shocking and sad (and so brilliantly, memory-searingly written) that I had to put the book down and take deep breaths and wait for the numbness to fade before I could resume. Fortunately, McFadden has a deft touch when it comes to injecting humor into the story, and there were countless times where I found myself grinning or chuckling.
“The Book of Harlan” is a book about a life. A man and those who live in his orbit. The story of Harlan but also the story of his mother and father and friends and lovers. From the Harlem Renaissance to World War II to the Civil Rights Movement, here is the American history of a man and those who loved him. Read it.
I knew the story was mingled with her familiar ancestors (in which I knew from her blog: firstborngirl.blogspot.com) fictional and some non-fictional characters.
McFadden fulfilled my expectations in writing a riveting, engaging and somewhat dark story. The picture of the man on the cover is an intro into the depths of the main character "Harlan". I wanted to see Harlan triumph and come out on the other side a winner in some form or fashion. He was in prison twice, watched loved ones die, fathered twins that he didn't know existed and dealt with internal demons.
McFadden wrote with prose and descriptive scenes that puts you in the midst of the story and next to the characters.
I rank this high on my must read list. I can't wait to read her next novel