Thursday, June 4, 2009

My Favorite Reads-June 4th

Alyce at At Home With Books just started a wonderful new Thursday meme called My Favorite Reads! This is where we can feature one of our favorite reads that we finished before we started blogging or even for older reviews that we would like to feature. We're not reviewing the books, but just giving a brief description (most likely the publisher's blurb) and then we tell you why the book is one of our favorites.

I think that this is a fantastic idea as there are so many books that I've read before I started this blog and would love to share them without a full review(many I have read years ago and my memory on all the details isn't the best). Also, I like the idea of featuring books that have been out awhile and not always focusing on current books and new releases.

For me, I've chosen a book that I read several years ago with my book club. It has stayed on my list of favorites for years and I would love to share a bit about this book with you.

The Fall of Rome by Martha Southgate

(first published 2002)

Cover Art: I found the changes in the covers very interesting. The one on the left is the harback cover that I read, the middle cover is the trade paperback and the right is the mass paperback cover.

Description from Martha Southgate Website:

The Fall of Rome tells the story of Jerome Washington, the sole black faculty member at the Chelsea School, an exclusive New England boys’ boarding school. From his perch in the Classics department, Washington lectures about the glories of Roman Civilization. Washington is a rigorous, difficult and lonely man who has spent much of his career trying not to appear too “racial” to his white colleagues.

Into his classroom steps Rashid Bryson, a bright, appealing young African-American who mistakenly assumes that the black teacher will be an ally. In the end, Rashid forces Jerome to examine his own self-hatred, and as a tragic triangle forms between these two men and Jana Hansen, a new white female teacher, the stage is set for a painful confrontation.

My thoughts on this book:

As I mentioned, I read this book with my book club several years ago. The author grew up nearby in Cleveland, Ohio and most of us are familiar with the city and several of us grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland as I did. Cleveland is a racially diverse community as well as many of the suburbs. I liked how the story is told from the perspective of the three characters and you learn how each of them end up at the Chelsea school. I found this book to be an interesting look at race and class and how the characters were effected by their past, their own experiences and their own perceptions. The story examines how characters of the same race clash and differ. This is a coming of age story that also focuses on finding racial identity. As a reader, the story makes you question your own stereotypes and to look at race from different sides. For me, it was the storytelling itself and the authors writing style that impacted me as I read this book. The descriptions were vivid and real and it was the kind of book that made me think about my own perceptions about race and class. We had a great discussion of this book at my book club as well. I just learned in looking back on the book that it is considered Young Adult.


  1. I haven't ever heard of this book, but it sounds like it would be very good. I like the cover on the left the best.

    I like the idea of reading from the three different perspectives too, especially since people have such different perspectives on race issues.

  2. I just love the idea of this meme and look forward to participating myself in September (after summer school).

    I have not heard of this book, but I love your synopsis and the photos of various editions of the same book.

  3. This sounds very good. And the author has won more than one award for her books I see. She's an author I will put on my list of tbr. I don't read YA books but I may make an exception here. I prefer the first cover too. Thanks for telling us about this author.

  4. This sounds fascinating and I love all of the different covers. I am reading The Turnaround now by George Pelecanos and its an interesting exploration of race and to some extent class as well.

  5. Sounds like a really good book. I wonder if they do those different covers as a marketing thing, to see which one sells the most? Anyway, thanks for bringing this book to our attention!

  6. Alyce-I think that is what is so neat about this meme that you started. We'll find out about so many other books that have been out there for awhile. I agree with you and like the cover on the left the best. This is the one that I read and I find that it fits the book so much better.

    Molly-Looking forward to when you can participate in this meme. I was surprised to see that they changed the cover of this book which each edition.

    Sandra-I think that this is closer to adult fiction but can fit in YA for older, high school ages IMO. I didn't realize that the author has written two other books and would like to read them.

    Nicole-I find books related to race, class and identity very enthralling and challenging. They are the kind of books that make you think and I like that! Thanks for telling me about The Turnaround, I'll have to look at that one.

    rhapsody-I wondered about the book covers myself. I wonder if they are trying to draw more of a younger audience with the covers or make it look like 3 different books.

  7. Isn't this a wonderful meme? I'm having fun with it! Your book sounds very good, I'll have to check it out. Come by my page sometime:

  8. Nice synopsis of the book.Theme of the book is appealing .These meme made me realise there are so many good books that I haven't yet come across. I have posted mine here

  9. This does sound like a great book. I may have to participate in this one next week.

  10. I think I'll probably do this next week. I have to decide which books I want to talk about. I've not heard of the one you mentioned but it does sound as though it would have been a good read.

  11. I like the idea behind this meme, so much so that I think I'll participate next week. I've not heard of this book but it will be something I definitely look up to read. sounds pretty powerful and that it has stayed with you over the past several years says something about the writing.

  12. Thanks for sharing this, Bonnie. I like reading about prep schools, then add in racial issues and experiencing it through 3 individuals - sounds like a good one.


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