Saturday, February 25, 2012

Book Review: Running Away to Home by Jennifer Wilson

Wilson, Jennifer. Running Away to Home. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2011.

Jennifer Wilson, a free-lance travel writer living in Des Moines, Iowa, and her husband Jim, an architect, (and their two young children) decide to take a year to live in Croatia, the land of Jennifer's ancestors, in hopes of discovering more about them. They face a number of obstacles including the difficulty of finding housing in her ancestral village, the language barrier, and access to records. Jennifer seems to be a bit unprepared for her genealogical ventures. An organized research plan is never shown and most of what she is doing seems to be random. She also seems to be content to leave her research at the parents of her immigrant ancestors instead of trying to go back further.  She does mention loss of records in the narrative, but the main record mentioned as being lost is the record of burials. I'm certain there are other records which could have been explored for the time period. The Family History Library guide mentions some that they have filmed or are in the process of filming. The reader does come away with a feel for some of the family's experiences in the country, but there are gaps in the narrative and places where you want more details and many places where you want far less information.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book Review: The Technologists by Matthew Pearl

MIT's first class is about to graduate. Before they do so, a madman is at work in the city of Boston, creating a distrust of technology among the people. Will these students be able to discover his identity and thwart his plans before Boston is destroyed? I found this to be a captivating read. The characters were interesting and well-drawn. The attitudes toward technology and Darwinism were interesting to explore. It was also interesting to see the attitudes towards a woman being enrolled in MIT pursuing education in a male-dominated field. My interest in the book never waned. There are enough red herrings to keep the reader guessing the identity of the madman until almost the end. This review is based on an advance uncorrected proof received through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program. (5 of 5 stars.)