How Beautiful We Were Book Review

… just wow.

I’ve not been so impressed with a novel in a long time. Some of the different perspectives and time hopping left me a little disoriented and confused, but I’ve never been good with books not being more or less linear. Just how my brain is. I would be curious to see if others have had that same issue.

This story is fiction but I would bet that something similar has occurred in “real life” in which a major oil company has devastated African land and villages all for profit.

You see one village’s saga through the eyes of one family over years and years. How they tried dialog and violence and more dialog until progress seemed to stall and fizzle and ultimately a village and their culture and customs withered because they needed to leave the land. How many times has such colonization happened ? It’s horrific and to be taken on this journey through it helps to show just what it might be like. It left me internally screaming that there had to be something else. Some other form of leverage they could have found when their government was corrupt and laws in foreign countries developed by NOT their people were being applied to their land and their lives. It also begs the question of like … how can you really own land ? It’s what sustains you. Everyone. How can you own it ?


I also recently saw the new Avatar movie. And of course parts of it gutted me because of my connection with the sea but it drives home the idea of connection between person and environment. Saying one person or group owns land seems like blasphemy. Anyway …

I’m going to try to use this novel when I teach pedagogy of the oppressed. What an apt illustration of how dialog can and can’t work.


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