This is my fifth year doing the Back to the Classics challenge. After Cry, The Beloved Country, I only have to read two more, a classic play, and a classic from a place I’ve lived at. I believe I’ll be able to complete the challenge this year as well. However, -as with the Classics Club challenge-, this will possibly be my last year doing challenges.
As months and years pass, I feel the need to reconsider the direction of the blog. When I started it, I wrote a lot more about homeschooling, the curriculum we used, the books I read to the girls, our outings. Time passed and it changed more to my reads and my reviews. Once thing I know, I do want to keep writing here. No matter if months pass in which I don’t write any posts, or read yours either, or if I have seasons of ebullient activity, I know I like writing about my reads, about life, and exchanging thoughts and ideas with all of you.
This year I already quit the local book club. I also felt freer to read whatever I felt compelled to read. A little pass the half way point, I can say it’s been a good reading year. There’s been times when I felt motivated to write reviews, but I still don’t enjoy having to write a stand alone review of the challenge titles. In the past, both challenges brought a beneficial attention to classics I wanted to read. I’ve also found several blogs of others through the challenges.
Don’t take me wrong, comes January, and I know I’d be looking at lists and what not for inspiration. The difference being that I’d be working on just one master book list where I plan to capture all my interests. I’d be revising that list too, but I won’t feel the need to review all I read from it, complete it in any amount of time, it’d be just the books, this blog, and I. And at any given point, that may change too. At the time, this is what makes sense to me.
And now, the review.
Cry, The Beloved Country, written in 1948, by Alan Paton. ★★★★★
I read the book for the Classic From Africa, Asia, or Oceania (includes Australia) category. Classics are books we think we know, but which we don’t. I had no desire to read this title. I thought it’d be completely boring, preaching, the kind of book they want you to read in high school to learn about Africa. The good thing is that a classic of this weight is everywhere, and finally, I’ve learned to ask others. I received an overwhelming response praising the book. I’m in debt, for now I’m one of those for whom this book is a favorite.
At a time of social turmoil, opposition, discontent, when there seems to be irreconcilable opinions or ways to understand life, this book came to show me that such has been and it is the human struggle. We live with more questions than answers, with more pain than healing. I feel there’s not much I can do to bring any peace, justice, or reconciliation to the problems of today, as they in Africa could not solve all their problems, heal their pain, or find justice.
However, reading this book brings my focus back to the only place that’s my beginning and my end, my faith. My faith is in God, and my love to Him moves me to love my neighbor, and the land we share.
The book has also humbled me. It’s not about the big issues, it’s not an all or nothing. There’s purpose in small gestures, in anonymous kind actions, in private and public prayers. On my part, I won’t lose hope, I’ll do better listening to others, -understanding that our varied life experiences make us see life very differently-.
The characters of this book were imperfect, and the main two men, Kumalo and Jarvis, had something in common. They looked beyond themselves, and tried to make sense of life and find purpose beyond what good or bad happened to them. Common people, with their miseries and petty actions, can rise up and show true love and magnanimity.