Book Review: The Underground Railroad

underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad was the winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction, and the 2017 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence. It is also in Oprah’s Book Club, receiving a lot of critical acclaim since its release August 2016.

The story is about primarily about a slave name Cora who is trying to free herself from absolute harshest of conditions of a Georgia plantation. Her mother Mabel, was allegedly the only slave to ever successfully escape the plantation and the infamous slave catcher Ridgeway. Caesar, another slave, comes to this Georgia plantation where Cora is and works out a plan to run the North by means of the Underground Railroad. He eventually convinces Cora to come with him. This is where I will stop to avoid giving away anymore of the book.

This is sobering book filled with violent detail of the mentality towards and treatment of slaves.  Because of that, it was hard to listen to (audiobook) at times. Thankfully, after the beginning of the book,  the violence/repulsive actions (things said and done to the slaves) calmed down but still reared its ugly head every so often. Although I cringed, wanted to stop or speed through those parts, I felt they were ultimately necessary to set the stage for the rest of the story. Cora’s plantation she grew up at was not only brutal for her because of her slave owners but also because of how most of the other slaves treated her.

Cora is a survivor pure and simple. I really enjoyed her character because although she wasn’t particularly talented or gifted, treated as an outcast, dismissed by many: she preserved. Perseverance was clearly her greatest strength. She essentially lived on her own from 10/11 years old and no matter the suffering, the trials, Cora kept moving forward. Her perseverance is such an admirable quality that reminds me so much of Louie Zamperini from the book “Unbroken” (WWII Olympian POW true story by Laura Hillenbrand”. You follow Cora’s story and think, “ Come on, can this girl catch a break?” “Is she ever going to break this vicious cycle of hardship in her life?”

I suppose I was foolish to expect some sort of happier ending for this book; not quite the Hallmark TV movie cheesy good feeling type of ending, but something definitive that things were on the right track for Cora. This isn’t that type of book though and I think that author deserves a lot of credit for being realistic and true to what were the realities of that time in history. This book is well written and even though it was different that I thought it would be, I appreciate how the author crafted this story. This is the kind of book where it was such a taxing journey, such realism and emotion you felt, that you aren’t going to be to re-read this again soon, if ever again. If I had to compare it to movies that gave this type of feeling where I was stirred with emotion, appreciated the film greatly, but never care to see them again: “Life is Beautiful”, “Schindler’s List” come to the forefront of my mind as examples.

Rating:

4 stars (out of 5 stars)

 

 

2017 Honda CR V AWD Review

Test drive #2 begins with Honda CRV.  It is the #1 overall best selling SUV/Crossover for 5 years in row (as of Feb. 2017); an impressive feat for a car no matter its car class. I don’t know if the CRV is the first vehicle people think of when thinking about SUVs but it seems the one that they end up buying.

Either way, the draw to Honda seems to be simple enough: Honda has a strong brand name based of reliability, safety and great value compared to its competition.  As a previous Honda owner, I knew Honda CRV was always going to be in my top 3 consideration for a vehicle.

Now for the Test Drive…..

 

Out of a possible 50 points. (10 for each category)

Performance/Driving: Rack and pinion steering shines as this vehicle is very responsive to any touch when making turns. 1.5 L Turbo charged engine is smaller than previous CR V incarnations and though it may feel underpowered in acceleration to some, I think it is a worthwhile trade-off for its fuel economy (27 city, 33 highway mpg). CR V is even more responsive with its safety features in brake assist if coming up too fast on another vehicle. Impressive overall. 9/10

Space/Room: Amongst its peers in class, this car boasts the most cargo space. You don’t think it is very significant observing the overall size of the CR V but it is. Engineers created maximum utility in getting you the most room without compromising other features of this vehicle. I see the room/spacing nearly impossible to beat for what we are looking for. 10/10

Appearance: 2017 model brings about a new design different from the past 5-6 years and I say it is for the better. Wheels are now bigger, ground clearance higher, and the interior is more visually appealing. Its appearance has come a long ways since it’s boxier introduction model and it is all for the better. Button/switch/handle placement are very well designed and thought out by engineers. 9/10

automobiles-new-2017-ford-edge-1206221-main-interior-photo-Image-1

Cost: Well significant upgrades in 2017, it is hard to want to settle for a prior year model; especially when the price between a brand new CR V and a 2016 is a few thousand dollars. It makes it hard to justify buying anything less than a new model of this CR V, which unfortunately isn’t something we are looking necessarily to do. 8/10

Comfort:  There is nothing over the top here but it is quiet and rides very nicely. The “sensing safety features”, crash test ratings do bring a peace a mind. There is a lot of storage to put things and the placement of switches/buttons seems to be convenient, thought out with common sense. You are not hunting all over the dash to find the trunk release or adjust windshield wiper speed, etc. 9/10

Overall:  It is hard not too simply gush about this vehicle because there is really nothing significant I find wrong with it. It is the complete package for a SUV of it is class and I find it hard to think I am going to find something that stacks as well against the Honda CR V overall. Safety features, cargo space, affordability, fuel economy really put this vehicle over the top for me. I am biased as I am a believer in the Honda brand, but this really is a top selling SUV for consecutive years for many reasons. Total Score: 45/50