The Hour of Daydreams – Bookish: Author Interview

Renee M RutledgeMs. Rutledge, thank you so very much for taking the time for this interview. When I finished The Hour of Daydreams, I had questions about the context around the book which I did not quite know how to seek out an answer to, so I was delighted when you agreed to talk with me. I have since searched through your website and discovered a few other Q&As in which you talk about the folk tale this book is a retelling of, but for my readers that have not seen those interviews,

1) do you mind sharing again the name and details for that folk tale? What was it about this folk tale that inspired you to write a novel based on it?

See below.

2) In your interview on What the Log had to Say, you state that you gave the character, Tala, agency in her story. Why did you make that choice? Is it important to you for female characters to have agency?

In the folktale, a man falls in love with a star maiden. His father plots a way to entrap her. The man steals her wings and hides them. She moves into their home and becomes his bride. Through this, her side of the story is left unspoken. It’s taken for granted that she’s passive, a prize, an object. I couldn’t trust such a story as complete. My novel turns those assumptions on their head. Tala is in more control over the turn of events than the man who stole from her. To me, the maiden in the story is a main character, a powerful but vulnerable being, but not someone whose destiny is solely in the hands of the men around her. At the same time, the men in the folktale felt one-dimensional too. Manolo is much more conflicted. One could even say his love is genuine.

3) I am still fascinated by this idea that a folk tale could be based on real people. I saw the creation of the folk tale as a way for the characters to cope with a painful truth, about Tala’s background as well as her departure. In The Hour of Daydreams, the truth and the folk tale are so seamlessly interwoven, I felt the book spoke to a larger philosophical topic on the concept of reality – this question of where is the line between truth and tale. Was the book intended to speak to the concept of reality as shifting? What are your thoughts on reality and that line between truth and tale?

Truth is always changing and revealing itself. One person’s truth may be different from another’s. And even our own truths, about others, about ourselves, can fluctuate and deepen over time. The folktale reveals a snapshot of one truth. It is limited and designed to close the story, as if the one truth is all there is to tell.

I recreated the river scene in the folktale to show simultaneous truths from each character experiencing that moment in their own way. From the river scene, the novel branches off from the folktale to explore my unanswered questions about this marriage on new ground. Because of the nature of truth, learning about the characters’ past requires detective work. History is dependent on the historian. This is why both Manolo, and then Malaya, must seek out the answers about Tala for themselves.

4) What role do folk tales play in Filipino culture? Is there any truth to the idea that those folk tales could be based on real people?

5) Why did you choose the setting of the Philippines and use one of its folk tales? Is it important for you to share Filipino culture with an American English speaking audience? Is there anything you hope the readers gain from reading The Hour of Daydreams?

I chose to base the novel in the Philippines because that is where the folktale, The Star Maidens, comes from. However, there are many different versions of a similar folktale from other cultures. I’ve read one from Africa, where sky women come down from the sky via a rope that a man cuts in order to keep one of them grounded. And an Incan version where a sun goddess loses her golden dress so she cannot fly, and marries the man who hid it from her. These many shared tales suggest a link between cultures; there are universal themes that we are all invested in. More often than not, however, someone else’s version of a story is told. It means a lot to me that more people are seeking to learn about The Star Maidens and Filipino books/culture as a result of reading The Hour of Daydreams.

6) For me, this story was lyrical, poetic, magical, mystical, and vague. Even the setting felt a bit surreal. The truth was not laid out in a clear way and I am not certain I fully understand the truth of Tala. Was this intentional and if so, to what purpose? Why leave the truth a bit unresolved and hard to grasp?

The novel tells two parallel stories. Because of this, some people interpret the novel as saying that two things are always happening at once, both in the story, and in life; that the real world has a magical parallel. However, it was not possible for me to write two stories and make them both true. Early on, I had to decide which story I believed in order to continue the book. In other words, one of the plots is false. This was a great challenge, so to me, one of the greatest testaments to the novel’s success is the fact many readers have made far different conclusions from my own.

7) Would you say this book falls within modern Filipino literature, Filipino-American literature, or does it defy such categories? For readers of the The Hour of Daydreams who want to read more Filipino literature, Filipino-American literature, and/ or #ownvoices stories, do you have recommendations of fiction and/or nonfiction authors?

I’m proud to be an author, period. It’s a tough industry. I don’t know what category the book falls under, I myself am a Filipino American. I recently did the keynote speech for an awards ceremony honoring outstanding Filipino students in my community, and it was a privilege to learn how proud the students and their parents were to have me as a role model. While there are few nationally published authors in my city, there are even fewer of Filipino descent. I think the same can be said of most places. I’m happy I was able to write a book based on my own vision; not that of an editor or publisher who has their idea of what a book by a Filipino author should look like. I’d like to hope industry standards are changing; that publishers are responding to readers who seek authenticity in diverse stories.

Thank you so much for the questions, for reading and for connecting. I highly recommend Deceit and Other Possibilities, by Vanessa Hua;Monstress, by Lysley Tenorio; Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi; Queen of Spades, by Michael Shum; A Cup of Water Under My Bed, by Daisy Hernandez; and Marriage of a Thousand Lies, by SJ Sindu. I’m currently reading Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere, and have Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizers and Arundhati Roy’s The Ministry of Utmost Happiness waiting on my nightstand.

8) Do you plan to write more folk tale retellings? Retellings is a particular favorite genre of mine.

More and more, I feel another folktale retelling will happen. I’m getting excited for that time to come, when I’ve wrapped up my current projects. This is a matter of years from now; if you have the same email address then I’ll be sure to get in touch!

For more author interviews, press releases, and book reviews, check out: https://www.reneerutledge.com/

The Underground Railroad – Reflection: Privilege

3769037680_44652f2a55_zPhoto credit: Privilege | Stephen Dann | CC 2.0

This is another hard reflection for me to write. In order to be honest about how The Underground Railroad impacted me, I have to confront my privilege. As a white person, I have the privilege to ignore the horrors of slavery and their lasting impact. I have had the ability to have a general sense of its horrors, but never fully understand them. My privilege has allowed me to live in relative comfort thinking it wasn’t much different from how I was taught in school it was. After reading The Underground Railroad, I had a choice on whether to continue to live in the comfort of that privilege or acknowledge that I had hid behind my privilege all these years.

I’m ashamed to admit this, but to a certain extent, I like to bury my head in the sand. While this is in some ways a metaphor, it was also how I handled scary situations as a child. When there was an unnerving scene on TV, I would stick my head between the back of the couch and the couch pillows. My parents used to joke I was an ostrich. But even then, I wanted to hide instead of comforting what makes me uncomfortable. To this day, I still want to hide when I feel uncomfortable, though I don’t stick my head behind pillows anymore. But I do disengage. Disengagement and feigned ignorance has been my shameful secret to how I cope with America’s painful past.

Even as a young child, I paid attention to politics and as I learned about America’s shameful past, from slavery to Native American genocide to colonialism and the like, I distanced myself from America and disengaged from American politics. I loved politics and political behavior, but focused on comparative politics over American politics because I could not love a country which had such an awful past. But over the years, I learned that these awful pasts exist in most countries and the best way to love a country is to try to repair the damage.

I switched to American politics in my PhD work and became more actively engaged in politics. Before I had to stop working due to disability, I was working in politics. I had made progress on learning to love a country that had such an awful past. What I hadn’t worked on was confronting the full reality of that past nor the underlying institutions that exist to perpetuate it still today.

The Underground Railroad does not only show the horrors of slavery, and horrors is not a strong enough word to describe at least one of the scenes in the book, but it also shows the horrors of the institutions created outside of slavery perpetuating second class citizenship and indefinite servitude. It is not the history of slavery per se that has led to the institutionalized racism of the day, but rather the institutions which were created around slavery specifically to ensure that former slaves and freeborn blacks did not obtain too much power after slavery fell. While some people did not believe slavery would fall, others saw that it was not sustainable and put into place measures to ensure white privilege and black struggle for intuity.

Nothing made that more obvious to me than the fictionalized depictions of North and South Carolina. Even if I wrote spoilers here, it would not be possible to to truly feel the impact of those chapters without reading the book. These fictionalized accounts of reality highlight the real effects these policies had, even when they came from “good” intentions. In many ways, the depictions of what happened in these two states will haunt me more than the horrors of slavery in Georgia. Nearly anyone can see how immoral slavery is when faced with accounts like those of what happened in Georgia; but it is a lot harder for any of us to see the horrors of institutions designed with the best intentions until someone like Whitehead takes them to their limits and shows us the true outcome.

It is not as though I was entirely unaware of some of what was depicted in the Carolinas. I knew of Henrietta Lacks, the woman whose cervical cells were taken without her consent and used for medical research. As a PhD student in a science, one learns about the research that was once done on people of traditionally marginalized groups and performed on them without their consent. But knowing generally and living it through the eyes of a character are two different things. Though Cora does not specifically witness nor experience medical research without consent, she is privy to other immoral medical situations, and it is through her and other characters’ reactions that I understood the legacy of such actions. Black people have a reason to not trust medical personnel, the government, and whites in general, but it was not until I The Underground Railroad did I understand that connection.

It is incredibly hard for me to admit this, not only because it bruises my pride which believes that I am clever, but also because it highlights my white privilege and my choices to hide my head in the sand. I’ve been told time and again by readers I trust that The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a powerful, well-written read, but I have yet to read it. I did not dive into the history of research abuses the way I have other bits of information I come across. I haven’t read personal accounts of slavery or watched the famous movies around them. I am uncomfortable with seeing humans treated in inhumane ways on a level that is painful to me. But reading The Underground Railroad has shown me that choosing to not see historical reality means I not only do not understand the institutions in place currently but also my role in maintaining those institutions.

Part of why I did not want to know more is because I do not know what to do with this knowledge. It is a heavy burden, but one I do not know how to resolve. I am a person who struggles to see the value in short-term goals and small wins, though I am trying to move toward a path where I can see the value in them. What I want to do is save the world, but as I will discuss in my reflection on The Hate U Give, there are serious problems with that framework. Which means I have work to do and I have to end this post feeling as though I am leaving the topic unresolved. But I am stepping into the vulnerability and sitting here with the discomfort. I am trying to do as Brene Brown suggests and not puff up or run from the discomfort. This is where I am right now. I’m not proud of it and I do not want to be here, but it is where I am. I know I will gain more insight by staying here and reflecting than I will by I taking action or hiding behind my privilege. This is me, raw and without all the answers. I feel naked, but I am trusting the process.

How do you face the discomfort of privilege, whatever that means to you?

The Underground Railroad – Review

the underground railroad coverThe Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – 4/ 5 stars

The Underground Railroad is a powerful and haunting tale of slavery and trying to escape it. Whitehead’s writing is vivid and transports one into another time period and another person. This is a book that will stay with me for years; not only the message, but also the feelings the book evoked as I lived Cora’s journey.

The story primarily focuses on Cora, a slave on a Georgia Plantation where she was born and raised. Cora is an outcast on the plantation and lives a somewhat lonely life. During a day of celebration, a new slave, Caesar, approaches Cora and asks if she will run away with him. He considers her a good luck charm since her mother successfully ran away. While Cora initially refuses, she eventually changes her mind and the two set out to find freedom through the underground railroad, which is an actual railroad underground. Their journey to freedom runs into many complications as they are pursued by a slave catcher. Yet, this is about more than a slave’s journey to freedom; it is a story about the entire system, including the various actors.

In The Underground Railroad, we get glimpses into other characters’ lives. There are several brief chapters throughout the book which tell the backstory of a character or reveal something else about a character. These chapters are incredibly well-written and I was incredibly impressed with how well each character was written. To my dismay, I found myself relating to and understanding white characters who were apart of slavery in some aspect. It blows my mind that Whitehead was able to accurately capture this characters and give them so much depth. But now that I am familiar with his writing, it does not surprise me. He is an amazing writer.

The Underground Railroad covers more than the story of Cora; it also shows the reader all sorts of other forms of oppression of black people: slave, freeborn, or freed. Through use of symbolism and reference to actual historical events, Whitehead makes it clear what obstacles black people had to overcome, not just during slavery, but in the years to follow emancipation. These pieces are what made this book so powerful and haunting for me. It gave me the sense of how desperate and horrendous the plight of the black person was. It deeply conveyed why many black people to not trust government institutions, politicians, or some white people in general. The atrocities white people have committed against black people, both during and long after slavery have left deep, deep wounds which often will not heal because in a certain way, not much has changed.

But Whitehead did more than capture the oppression of black people; he also captured the fear of the average white person. Violence begets violence and thus, white people brought much of the violence upon themselves, the average soul was ignorant to that. They failed to understand that stealing a people from a land would cause them to violently try to change the situation. Many of the white people were not actively apart of slavery and many of them had not witnessed the slave trade, which had been banned by the time this story takes place. Instead, for every black uprising, white fear grew, and they responded with more violence, which only led to more violent response. The stories white people told themselves about black people being violent criminals came true because of the actions of white people themselves or at least the system at large. Whitehead captures this and has the reader glimpse for a moment what it would feel like to be a white person during this time period. But this glimpse is short because in the end, while the fear may have been real, it was irrational and the people that deserve sympathy and understanding are ones horrible damaged and broken by this irrational fear.

There are some incredibly disturbing scenes in this book, often worse than what I had understood of the horrors of slavery. Many of these depictions will stay with me for a long time. There is much truth in them, which is why it is not possible to easily shake them. But surprisingly, this book was less challenging than I expected. For example, while there were references to rape, the details were not given. Even the most gruesome scenes were told with only as much detail as necessary. Also, the narrator was a bit detached from it all, making it easier to digest. But this detachment is also what costs this book a half star because due to that attachment, this book will not stay with me in the same way it could have otherwise.

In terms of plot, I did not find the inclusion of an actual underground railroad to add anything to the story, though I did not feel like it took away from the story either. The plot was good, but not as strong as I expected. While the writing is fantastic, it still does not seem to provide enough to give the plot a full life. I will certainly remember many scenes from this book and some will stay with me in vivid detail, the main plot will likely be lost on me in due time. That is disappointing for me and cost the point another half point. It is hard to pinpoint exactly what is missing, except to say that it likely goes back to the detachment. Yes, I wanted the best outcome for Cora and the other characters, but I was not moved to cry when they ran into serious obstacles nor did I feel compelled to keep reading their stories. I greatly enjoyed the book, the overall plot just was not that interesting. I am not sure I will read more of Colson Whitehead’s works. His writing is fantastic and his symbolism and short “stories” within the book are superb, but if his other books suffer from the same uninteresting plot, I am not sure I want to read them. Only time will tell. However, I do recommend people read this book as it truly does add another layer of understanding to what it was like to live as a black person in America during slavery.

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Considering reading it? Check out a free Kindle preview! Ready to buy? Purchase on Amazon or Book Depository. Please note that Diversifying Perspective is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and Book Depository Affiliates Program, affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to free Kindle previews through Amazon.com and BookDepository.com. This does not impact the selection of books nor the content of reviews.

The Little Queen – Reflection: What We Do

3575482180_3d8d8b0980_oPhoto credit: and who are you?Mitsuko Tonouchi | CC 2.0

I loved this children’s story and there were so many beautiful lines, but by far my favorite was this one:

“Asking what one did was like asking who they were, and that was too simple a question for a very complex answer.”

It is a very concise way of explaining why I have disliked the “what do you do” question for a long time. People are more than a job or a career and they do much, much more than simply work. We are all complex beings with complex lives. There are complex reasons for why someone is a cashier or a lawyer. There are complex careers in which a title is an insufficient answer. Yet, American culture tends to boil everything down to one simple question: what do you do.

One gains a keen understanding of just how often that question is asked in everyday life when her response is: I don’t work anymore as I’m now on disability retirement. Yes, that person is me and yes, I have to say that more often than you might think. At visit to the doctor’s office: medical assistant or nurse getting my vitals – so are you heading back to work after this appointment or do you have the day off; doctor – so what do you do. On a dating app: potential match: so what do you do; me: oh I crochet, read, garden, play video games, hang out with my nephew, and spend time with friends; potential match (clearly a bit frustrated): no, what do you do for work; me: I’m currently unable to work but receive money from disability retirement; potential match: …; me: are you still there; potential match: …

Yes, it happens quite often that a potential love interest stops talking to me pretty much the second they find out I do not have a job, even when I point out I have an income. Most are kind enough to wait until the conversation comes to a natural end, but still, they never respond to future attempts to contact them. Why? Because American society places so much value on what someone does as a career that not having one somehow automatically makes someone less valuable. Before you disagree, take an honest step back and consider whether you have done this. I did before I was disabled. I did not think twice about it back then. That is how ingrained it is in our society.

While it is ingrained in all of us Americans to ask that what do you do question at some point in a conversation with a new person, after reading the quoted line above, I find myself asking why we ask it. What information about a person do we gain by asking that question, besides literally what they do for a job? Does it tell us about their hopes and dreams? Does it tell us whether they are a good person? Does it tell us whether we will like them? Does it tell us what they fear or who they love? Maybe, but most likely not. We may assume a lot of things about the person based on their job: oh, he’s a cashier, he must not have a lot of ambition or she’s a lawyer, she must be a skilled liar and make a lot of money. But those assumptions do not truly answer the very complex question of who is this person. In fact, the question of what do you do and the assumptions that follow may in fact prevent us from learning who the person truly is. For example, I met a gentleman who answered the what he did question by telling me he was an overnight stocker at a retail store, even though they had encouraged him to become a supervisor. He said he didn’t want to deal with the stress of management. He also mentioned that what he really wanted to do was to work in law enforcement and was hoping to do security for this retailer. I dismissed him thinking he was not very ambitious or hardworking, but it turned out that he suffered from severe epileptic seizures and was being responsible by minimizing the stress which triggered his seizures.

So, why do we start by asking people what they do? I do not know exactly, but I know I now better understand the folly of asking that question after reading this book. People are much too complex to be boiled down to a job. I encourage everyone to make a greater commitment to asking creative questions that will answer the question we really want to know the answer to – who are you as a person. I will certainly not be the one asking the what do you do question first going forward.

What do you think about asking people what they do? Is it too simple a question for a very complex answer?

Little Queen – Review: ARC

the little queen coverThe Little Queen by Meia Geddes – 4/ 5 stars

The Little Queen is a beautiful children’s story about a girl who becomes a little queen upon the death of her parents. She does not want to be a little queen and sets out on an adventure to try to find someone who would like to be a little queen. Along the way, she meets many characters whose names define what they do, but it is rude in the kingdom to ask someone what they do. The explanation is one of my favorite lines:

“Asking what one did was like asking who they were, and that was too simple a question for a very complex answer.”

There are many other beautiful lines that convey much depth and insight. For example:

“‘You must pay attention to your obsessions, where life and love intersect…’”

“…in the early morning there came a sliver of time in which everything was a beginning, a rebirth of dreams.”

“Walking and writing and running are very purposeful activities, but living we just happen to do regardless, … But most of us cannot not live and live, at least that I know of, so maybe the next best thing is to ponder not living and then to live.”

The Little Queen is part adventure, part philosophy, and part a reminder of embracing who we are. This makes it a wonderful children’s book, while also being an engaging and thought-provoking book for adults. It reminded me a bit of the Fairlyland series which starts with The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making. I would love to see more of the little queen.

There is a bit of lesbian instalove, but it is sweet and enduring in a way which makes it not feel like instalove. But this book is not really about romance or this love – the love story is another small piece of a book which provides so much more to its readers.

It is a bit hard to describe this book without giving away much of the story and likely ruining the joy of discovering its beauty for oneself. It is a book everyone should read, young and old, as a fun, whimsical, thoughtful change of pace. It is a very quick read, with beautiful illustrations and language. You will not be disappointed if you read it. I cannot wait to see what else Meia Geddes writes.

I received this ebook free from Netgalley and publisher Poetose Press in exchange for an honest review.

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Considering reading it? Check out a free Kindle preview! Ready to buy? Purchase on Amazon or Book Depository. Please note that Diversifying Perspective is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and Book Depository Affiliates Program, affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to free Kindle previews through Amazon.com and BookDepository.com. This does not impact the selection of books nor the content of reviews.

The Hour of Daydreams – Reflection: Reality

2793296695_f70d459f60_zWhile most of us prefer to think that reality is fixed and we all see the same reality, numerous scholars have argued and demonstrated that in fact, reality is shifting. What is real for me may not be real for you. We have all experienced this when we share a story about something that happened in a group and someone else interjects, that’s not what happened! What did in fact happen? That question is harder to answer than we like to admit.

The Hour of Daydreams is a story of a reality that was mixed with cultural beliefs and norms, myth and fantasy, and a desire for reality to be better than the truth. It is a folktale origin story and retelling, but it is deeper than that. The Hour of Daydreams speaks to this deep need to shape reality to match it to a world we need to live in in order to cope with tragedy, trauma, and loss and to create meaning out of suffering. This routinely happens throughout the world, in varying degrees and success, depending on the individual and the culture in which they live. Through reading The Hour of Daydreams, we glimpse how this might have played out to form one Filipino folktale and gain a deeper understanding of Filipino culture.

Myths, folktales, fairytales, and origin stories have been created since the beginning of human history as a way to understand, make sense of, and find meaning in an often chaotic and cruel world. They provide a frame of reference for an entire culture on how to perceive the world. Thus understanding these stories helps us better understand and relate to another culture as it gives us a glimpse into that frame the way not much else can. Those frames of reference are deeply impactful and can greatly shape actions, thoughts, and beliefs making it vital to understand them if we want to understand a people better.

All of this academic discussion is to provide a frame around why I spent so many days after reading The Hour of Daydreams thinking about the concept of reality and how individuals can sometimes vary so incredibly in their understanding of an event, a concept, or even life. Particularly when one has to cope with trauma, especially complex trauma and horrific trauma, reality becomes a tricky thing, but not just for the victims of trauma, but also those around them. People generally want to have control over the circumstances of their lives and when confronted with the possibility that they may not have the level of control they convince themselves they do, they can create alternative realities and it can leave the people left to face the true reality of said trauma to feel very alone.

While reality gets shifty around trauma since trauma is such a significant and devastating event, reality does not only get shifty after trauma; alternate realities emerge around any situation in which people feel like they have less control than they want over life. This is poignant for me as my health has deteriorated over the last few years. One of the most striking examples centers around how this all started. I sustained a minor stress fracture to my foot while walking my dog and developed a severe pain condition from that one small injury. While I was on crutches non-weight bearing, I rode in a lot of cabs and Ubers and on those journeys, drivers would ask me about my obvious injury. As I explained how a very minor injury triggered one of the worst pain conditions rated on the McGill pain index, drivers would sometimes visibly shut down. They would then try to come up with explanations, justifications, or treatments to explain away my situation. It must be something else; if you just tried this treatment; or there must be something about you which makes your situation unique. These people were unable to tolerate a world in which they at any moment could sustain a minor injury and have their lives change so drastically. I have found over and over again throughout the last several years that it is incredibly hard for people to be vulnerable enough to sit with the discomfort of the knowledge that they have limited control over their lives. I am no stranger to the inability to sit with this discomfort. But when the people around me create an alternate reality in which such an event could only happen to me and not to them or is my fault, it feels isolating and shaming.

I wonder how Tala felt having those around her, but particularly her husband, create a fantastical story about her origins instead of sitting with the discomfort of her reality. It must have felt isolating and lonely. I understand why she spent so much time with her sisters as they were the only ones who believed her truth and lived in her reality. I understand why she left her family instead of staying with them to confront the difficulties which were about to befall her. Their inability to live in her reality meant that she did not feel supported enough to ask for their help. She felt she had to resolve it on her own. It is a tragedy all in and of itself.

This is why the story impacted me so deeply. I know that hurt and loss. I know what it is to have the truth denied by the ones we love and I know how suffocating that can be. I have lived Tala’s pain, even though she is of a different time and culture and my loved ones have not created a fantastical folktale to explain my circumstances. Those differences do not matter. We all have times when we speak the same language even though there are vast differences. While reading this story, I felt less alone. I did not want Tala’s story to end. I wanted as much time with her as possible. There is so much beauty in her story, it was hard to let it go. But alas, her reality was no more my reality than anyone’s reality is mine and it was time for her story to end, but I will carry her story in my heart for a long time to come.

The Hour of Daydreams – Review: ARC

the hour of daydreamsThe Hour of Daydreams by Renee Macalino Rutledge – 4/ 5 stars

I wouldn’t call magical realism my genre, but I also wouldn’t say I dislike it. I’ve read a few books with magical realism and some have been good and some have been terrible. When the phrase, magical realism comes up, I hesitate and think, oh I probably won’t like that. When I read the description for The Hour of Daydreams I was intrigued, but hesitated because of the magical aspect of the book. I am so glad I decided to read this book.

I would not characterize this book as magical realism. I would characterize it as lyrical and a story about people who believe in alternate realities. This story did not feel like the magical realism was forced upon it, but rather that these characters live with a beautiful way of understanding the world. I loved how The Hour of Daydreams transported me to this world and showed me how rich it is. I loved feeling the characters grapple with reality versus what they wanted to believe and I felt I understood why these stories arise. For me, this type of story is simply another way of storytelling and I love it.

This is a story of Tala, a woman who none of the characters fully know as she is an outsider to the community. Her husband sees her as a fallen angel while others envision other possibilities as to where she is now. Ultimately, as the story unfolds, we learn that Tala is a woman with a complicated and painful past and the people who love her cope with this knowledge through myths and half truths. These are beautiful myths and half truths, which no one fully believes, but yet they hold power.

The story is beautifully told and unfolds at a solid pace which kept me engaged throughout the book. The point of view changes, but in a seamless way. The ending provided enough resolution to leave me satisfied, but enough uncertainty to make this feel a bit like a fairy tale.

My biggest complaint is that I would have liked more. I wanted to know so much more about everyone, but especially Tala and Manolo. They were incredibly rich characters I wanted to know deep down to their souls. The amount I learned about the characters was satisfying, but I would have been even happier had this book been longer.

Even if you think you do not like magical realism, I recommend this book for you as it is not magical reality so much as the stories we tell ourselves to get through what can often be a cruel life. It is a beautiful book and one fans of literary fiction will enjoy. I encourage everyone to give it a try as it’s likely not like any other book you’ve read before. For me, that was a beautiful gift.

I received this ebook free from Netgalley and publisher Forest Avenue Press in exchange for an honest review.

Add to Goodreads! The Hour of Daydreams

Considering reading it? Check out a free Kindle preview! Ready to buy? Purchase on Amazon or Book Depository. Please note that Diversifying Perspective is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and Book Depository Affiliates Program, affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to free Kindle previews through Amazon.com and BookDepository.com. This does not impact the selection of books nor the content of reviews.