Gina’s Reading: The Wordy Shipmates

The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah VowellThe only reason I didn’t give Sarah Vowell’s The Wordy Shipmates a full set of stars is pretty petty… it isn’t my all-time favorite book ever. But it does rank up there! I love Sarah’s cheeky treatment of — well — everything. She knows her history (not always the case with people who like to groan about it) and manages to weave a deliciously coherent narrative around some pretty disjointed characters.

As a part-Cherokee, solidly-citified, religiously tolerant but in-adherent girl — much like myself — Sarah takes a look back to our Puritanical roots through the stories of several folks who helped found Boston, were tossed out of there — or both. She doesn’t spare us the often-gory details as people wipe one another out because of a variety of differences — most of them petty.

Sarah also avoids the white-washing of individuals — recognizing that even the most disgusting of behavior doesn’t fully define an individual. She tries to tell both sides, even when it would have been easy to tell us a version that vilifies a particularly cruel character — how would we know the good-guy stuff if she hadn’t read his diary in its entirety and told us about it?

Oh, and if that weren’t enough — check out the cover! Like all of Sarah’s books this one features a diorama-style image that sends me back to 5th grade Social Studies. In a good way. What’s not to like about a group of Thanksgiving-play-ready Pilgrims waxing eloquent on a beach in front of a sunset-lit (or is that an East Coast sunrise?) sailing ship? Nothing. Nothing’s not to like.

Overall, I loved this book. But I’ve already told you that. Go! Read!

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About Gina Lynette

I have been called a, "PollyAnna, sugar-coated idealist." I like to think of myself as more optimistic than that.

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