Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Review of Balm by Dolan Perkins-Valdez

by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
269 Pages
Publisher: Amistad Press
Purchase Links: AmazonIndieBound | Barnes & Noble

The Civil War has ended, and Madge, Sadie, and Hemp have each come to Chicago in search of a new life. 

Born with magical hands, Madge has the power to discern others’ suffering, but she cannot heal her own damaged heart. To mend herself and help those in need, she must return to Tennessee to face the women healers who rejected her as a child. 

Sadie can commune with the dead, but until she makes peace with her father, she, too, cannot fully engage her gift.

Searching for his missing family, Hemp arrives in this northern city that shimmers with possibility. But redemption cannot be possible until he is reunited with those taken from him. 

In the bitter aftermath of a terrible, bloody war, as a divided nation tries to come together once again, Madge, Sadie, and Hemp will be caught up in a desperate, unexpected battle for survival in a community desperate to lay the pain of the past to rest. 

Beautiful in its historical atmosphere and emotional depth, Balm is a stirring novel of love, loss, hope, and reconciliation set during one of the most critical periods in American history.

I actually have no idea what to think about this book. It was pretty good at some parts, and at others I was completely bored. This book took me way to long to read for a book that was under 300 pages. I don't know whether it was the slow plot or the writing style that made me shy away from this book, but it just didn't seem to work for me.

My main grievance with this book was the pacing. I found it to be slow during most of the book. I don't have a problem with a slow book since one of my favorite series (ASOIAF) is very slow plot-wise, but this book took it from slow to boring. I just didn't feel like anything really happened during the majority of the book.

Another issue I had with this book was the writing. I'm not saying that the author didn't write well because I really felt like she had a lot of control over the English language. My problem with the writing was that it didn't adequately explain things. I found myself often confused at what she was trying to get across, and it was mildly annoying when I just wanted to read, but I had to go over paragraphs many times in order to understand what was going on.

I really didn't enjoy how the author described things either. She was VERY blunt in her descriptions, and it took away from the mood of the story. When the author compared a object or emotion to something related to *ahem* male sex organs, it really ruined the mood that the post-Civil War era naturally had.

I felt nothing towards the characters. They were just kind of there. I don't know whether that was a me thing or an overall feeling, but it was just disappointing. One of the main characters was a former slave, and I didn't care about the trails that he went through at all. It was like he was just kind of a filler character even though he was extremely important to the overall story.

Now that I have bashed every part of the book, I am going to be kind to it. I loved the atmosphere of the story. It was beautiful and romantic. The author did a pretty good job describing the affects of the Civil War on people in both the North and the South.

If this book was somewhat shorter, I feel like I would have enjoyed reading it a lot more since it would not have dragged on as much. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I loved the idea of this story, but I felt that the way it was written fell a bit flat for me.

The Rating:



About Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Dolen Perkins-Valdez is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel Wench. Her fiction has appeared in the Kenyon ReviewStoryQuarterlyStorySouth, and elsewhere. In 2011 she was a finalist for two NAACP Image Awards and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for fiction. She was also awarded the First Novelist Award by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. She teaches in the Stonecoast MFA program in Maine. A graduate of Harvard and a former University of California President's Postdoctoral Fellow at UCLA, Dolen Perkins-Valdez lives in Washington, D.C., with her family.
Find out more about Dolen at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Tour Stops:
Wednesday, May 27th: Peeking Between the Pages

Thursday, May 28th: A Dream Within a Dream
Friday, May 29th: Kritters Ramblings
Tuesday, June 2nd: A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, June 3rd: Readers’ Oasis
Thursday, June 4th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Monday, June 8th: Book Babe
Tuesday, June 9th: Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, June 10th: Belle’s Beautiful Books (here!!!)
Thursday, June 11th: Jorie Loves a Story
Monday, June 15th: Raven Haired Girl
Tuesday, June 16th: Read. Write. Repeat.
Wednesday, June 17th: Lit and Life
Thursday, June 18th: Every Free Chance Book Reviews
Monday, June 29th: Wall-to-Wall Books


I received this book in exchange for an honest review, and honestly it would be more difficult to make a dishonest review than a truthful one.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book for the tour.