The only disappointing thing about this book was that I finished it, and have no new Kingsolver books to look forward to As always, her writing is exquisite I found myself re reading parts just to savor her use of language.The Lacuna is a novel based on real events in history the Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo and the period in the 1930 s when Trotsky was exiled in Mexico I learned a lot while enjoying a good story, not really sure where it was heading but oh does it come tog The only disappointing thing about this book was that I finished it, and have no new Kingsolver books to look forward to As always, her writing is exquisite I found myself re reading parts just to savor her use of language.The Lacuna is a novel based on real events in history the Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo and the period in the 1930 s when Trotsky was exiled in Mexico I learned a lot while enjoying a good story, not really sure where it was heading but oh does it come together in the end in a way that took my breath away Placed in context with Kingsolver s other books this is essentially worthless She turns Freida Kahlo into the most magical pixie dream girl ever and gives us a main character so thoroughly desexed and generally grey that one sort of imagines him as a Ken doll, completely generic and non threating in every possible way And I KNOW that s sort of the point of the main character, but still, he is pretty much one of the least enjoyable protagonists I ve ever read since all you do is spend time with Placed in context with Kingsolver s other books this is essentially worthless She turns Freida Kahlo into the most magical pixie dream girl ever and gives us a main character so thoroughly desexed and generally grey that one sort of imagines him as a Ken doll, completely generic and non threating in every possible way And I KNOW that s sort of the point of the main character, but still, he is pretty much one of the least enjoyable protagonists I ve ever read since all you do is spend time with his guilt and boring unhappiness Additionally, and you may not have known this, brace yourselves, but the House Un American Activities Committee was BAD NOOOooooooo I ve blown your mind Also bad newspapers and media Good Trotsky and NOTHING ELSE Especially Americans, unless you are a hillperson I do admire how with the Violet Brown character Kingsolver has reconfigured the Noble Savage idea and yet it still offends me , maybe in these kinds of cases we could call it the Magical Hillbilly Oh, and just so I am not coming off as some kind of dumbass America Love it or Leave it type I have no problem when American wrongdoings such as the internment concentration camps for Japanese or the aforementioned Committee are rightfully brought to task, but it almost offends me when its done so lazily and without even the slightest attempt to think about why these things happened beyond most Americans are sheep who like to buy stuff ETA Man I just keep on thinking of things to dislike about this book Her use of slang Oh My GOD Apparently someone issued Ms Kingsolver an urban dictionary of the 30s 50s with the challenge of using every phrase in it, no matter the fact that when people do use slang they don t use all of it at once About 60% of the characters sounded like parodies of people from their eras see The mother, Salome I don t know how to type accents The story is told as the collected journals of Harrison Shepherd, put together after his death by his secretary and friend Violet Brown Beginning with his childhood, just before WorldWar2 , as his mexican mother leaves his american father and takes him with her back to mexico Harrison writes his journals because he can t help but write, like other people cannot help breathing, he is destined to become an author one day.Harrison s childhood is surreally beautiful, the problems of his chain smo The story is told as the collected journals of Harrison Shepherd, put together after his death by his secretary and friend Violet Brown Beginning with his childhood, just before WorldWar2 , as his mexican mother leaves his american father and takes him with her back to mexico Harrison writes his journals because he can t help but write, like other people cannot help breathing, he is destined to become an author one day.Harrison s childhood is surreally beautiful, the problems of his chain smoking, gold digging mother are distant His journals are all in the 3rd person, nothing ever happens directly to Harrison It s like looking at everything from underwater.Harrison gets a job mixing plaster for the famous mexican muralist Diego Rivera and his wife Frieda Kahlo which gradually turns into a job as a cook, and then also a secretary Then the exiled Lev Trotsky arrives, taken into the houshold of the Riveras, and Harrison can t help but be a part of the revolution, even so he is still always on the outside, an observer, written in the 3rd person.In the second half of the novel, back in America, Harrison finally begins to use the personal pronoun, I No longer talking about himself in the 3rd person, he finally owns his own words, and talks directly about himself Yet somehow he is grown distant, like letters from a child hood friend that you grew apart from I find it harder to connect with Harrison now, which is ironic But it leaves space to be covered over with by the political upheaval in America Harrison s personal life seems to happen far in the background, while in front of us the FBI and the Un American commitee are hunting down communist sympathisers I feel bad now for every silly joking utterance of bloody commies , because I never meant it, and I never realised how real it once was I feel like I ve never paid attention in history class Whenever I hear thing kind of thing, he said, a person speaking about constitutional rights, free speech, and so forth, I think, how can he be such a sap Now I can be sure that man is a Red A word to the wise, Mr Shepherd We just do not hear a real American speaking in that Manner Theres a horribly real feeling of suffocation in this second half of the novel, neighbours turning against him, his readers turning against him, no matter how much they loved his first 2 books, now they believe any lies printed in the newspapers The same happening to hundreds of US citizens, once they re labeled as communists, they re done for, no matter who they really are or what they really said But it could easily be happening today Replace the word communist with the word terrorist , and this could be America today It could be britain and any non mainstream political party the British national party for instance, once the papers label you as a BNP supporter, you re demonised.Violet Brown reminds us, when we re already well over 100 pages into the novel, that these are the private journals of a dead man who never wanted them published And that we should stop reading if we want to respect his wishes I almost stopped reading It was hard to remember that the book is fiction In fact that should be hard to remember, it should be, because in truth, in the end, it wasn t fiction This is the most important thing about it Harrison Shepherd and Violet Brown may never have existed, but these events too place, these things happened to someone These things still happen to other people now, under other names and guises It s not fiction And that is the scariest thing about it I had the privilege of listening to Kingsolver read this aloud as well as reading the printI love her Her voice and her style of narration, her perfectly articulated words and sounds all captivated me instantly Hearing V.B s voice as Kingsolver intended it is what made me want to just hug Violet Brown The characters were so lovable even though I d never want to hang out with Harrison or Violet in real life, but Trotsky definitely.I have heard people say that this book had a political ag I had the privilege of listening to Kingsolver read this aloud as well as reading the printI love her Her voice and her style of narration, her perfectly articulated words and sounds all captivated me instantly Hearing V.B s voice as Kingsolver intended it is what made me want to just hug Violet Brown The characters were so lovable even though I d never want to hang out with Harrison or Violet in real life, but Trotsky definitely.I have heard people say that this book had a political agenda I have to disagree I believe that this novel, although centered around politics, is about humans, while politics never seem to be This novel did not turn me into a socialist, a communist, an anti communist, or a hater of capitalism, but it did make me want to embrace all kinds of people It made me yearn to learnabout and to listen to people I don t know, and especially those that I think I know about Because I don t really The best part about someone is that which you don t know Thinking about that recurring message in the novel has impacted me For reals.This novel showed me about McCarthyism how could we force people to value our government over theirs by silencing, condemning, and violating all of the personal freedoms that make our country so great The Bonus Army How did I learn about this terrible event in high school I had to have, right without remembering it It s seared into my consciousness nowHaving your words used against youBeing a writerBeing a private person Trotsky StalinStupid American slang from the 20 s 50 s Being gay when hardly anyone around you thinks that is okayCensorship other oppressive behaviorArtists, especially Frida DiegoA lot of ancient Mexican historyIntegrityMy favorites I m being vague so as not to spoil the plot a when a character protested a violating probe by invoking our personal rights guaranteed to Americans, and the agent responded with something to the effect of, No American talks like that that s how I know you re a communist HA I don t think this is true any, and I m hoping that we ll be a little less inclined to McCarthyism type witch hunting in the future b The metaphorical images in the first chapter and what they came to symbolizec The strong women Frida VB d Leve The subtletyf The statement that a rule of the media is to fill the silence, keep talking, whether it s true or not Sounds familiar.g Barbara Kingsolver s voices when she reads aloud h The ending.I have to thank my local library for pushing me to read this by selecting it for book club I would have really missed out on some opportunity to grow as a person had I not dived into the lacuna I don t give a book the 5 stars without much consideration This author s beautiful language and the things she taught me make Lacuna very special to me.I found myself in the bright and colorful world of Frida Kahlo s Mexico, and the gloomy sphere of the iron curtain and our country s disturbing consequences of McCarthyism A real work of art that took me away from my cozy home.It s not a quick read or one you can put down without considering all the circumstances of all the main characters Hop I don t give a book the 5 stars without much consideration This author s beautiful language and the things she taught me make Lacuna very special to me.I found myself in the bright and colorful world of Frida Kahlo s Mexico, and the gloomy sphere of the iron curtain and our country s disturbing consequences of McCarthyism A real work of art that took me away from my cozy home.It s not a quick read or one you can put down without considering all the circumstances of all the main characters Hope and hopelessness, truth and misinformation are always present Kingsolver requires you to think and search your heart and soul I can t wait to discuss this book About a week before I started reading Lacuna, my friend asked me when I thought Barbara Kingsolver was going to write a gay character Little did we knowThe fascinating part of Shepherd s homosexuality, of his entire character really, is how it is revealed Slowly, carefully, the way we had to peel away the thinest possible onion skins to put on slides in my 6th grade science class Most of this story is told through Shepherd s journal entries, entries in which the pronoun I is notably lack About a week before I started reading Lacuna, my friend asked me when I thought Barbara Kingsolver was going to write a gay character Little did we knowThe fascinating part of Shepherd s homosexuality, of his entire character really, is how it is revealed Slowly, carefully, the way we had to peel away the thinest possible onion skins to put on slides in my 6th grade science class Most of this story is told through Shepherd s journal entries, entries in which the pronoun I is notably lacking It s through his descriptions of everyone and everything around him that we come to know our protagonist A delicate business, Babs, but one you do so well.For those enad with Kingsolver s lyrical prose, this latest and greatest work might be a bit of a stretch Shepherd is a poet and though his journals often reflect that, the book is presented as a collection of nonfiction journal entries, newspaper articles, and archivist s notes Kingsolver bats her character and reader from Frieda and Diego s Mexican ranch house, to Trotsky in hiding, to the McCarthy trials in America This ambitious work covers art, politics, and social history in a comprehensive and thoroughly palatable way Reading the fictive life of Shepherd and company set against the backdrop of actual history was like reading a textbook with the people and places come to life.Of course, attention must be given to the relationship between Shepherd and his assistant Mrs Brown Sometimes the most perfect love affair is purely platonic Or is it Complicated and fascinating.It s a brick of a book, so start lifting weights now And sometimes it dragged I skimmed over some of the newspaper articles, I ll admit it But I fell in love with Shepherd and my heart was with his all the way through I genuinely cared what happened to him and turning the page was never a question I closed the book wishing there really was a writer named Harrison Shepherd Brilliant, all around Yep, Barbara Kingsolver does it again, with a book that almost demands that you keep reading This is the story of Harrison William Shepherd, the son of a Mexican mother, and an American father The father is indifferent to the boy, and his mother longs for romance and adventure, so she returns to Mexico with the boy.The book is written as if it is a diary or journal of Harrison s life from his earliest memories He details his life in Mexico, where through a series of events, he becomes the coo Yep, Barbara Kingsolver does it again, with a book that almost demands that you keep reading This is the story of Harrison William Shepherd, the son of a Mexican mother, and an American father The father is indifferent to the boy, and his mother longs for romance and adventure, so she returns to Mexico with the boy.The book is written as if it is a diary or journal of Harrison s life from his earliest memories He details his life in Mexico, where through a series of events, he becomes the cook in the household of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera Later, Leo Trotsky comes to stay when he is thrown out of Stalinist Russia Harrison s life becomes entwined with that of these three characters, which makes for fascinating reading As an adult, he eventually returns to America, where his books about Mexican history become best sellers However, when the House Committee on Un American Activities starts up, he is called to testify because they believe he is a member of the Communist Party Having always been a private person, this causes him a great deal of anguish, and leads to his decision which ends the book.I found this to be a really riveting read, both for the story, and because it is not always clear who is really telling the story The description of life in the Kahlo Rivera household, as well as the personality of Leo Trotsky and his wife made it especially interesting to me I also learnedabout the history of Mexico than I ever expected to I recommend this book if you don t mind stories that take a while to tell Even small details turn out to be important, and at least in my opinion, I didn t want to finish reading the book and have the story end Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Mexico, Leo Trotsky, Committee on Unamerican Activities The Lacuna is a wealth of information on these topics But it s outstanding feature is it s narrator, Harrison Shepherd Mexican American, cook, sometime secretary, novelist and gay Kingsolver s wonderful telling of his tale and those whose lives cross his path is insightful, humorous and full of pathos I was, by turn, amused then saddened by his story Harrison may have been a fictional character but many live Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Mexico, Leo Trotsky, Committee on Unamerican Activities The Lacuna is a wealth of information on these topics But it s outstanding feature is it s narrator, Harrison Shepherd Mexican American, cook, sometime secretary, novelist and gay Kingsolver s wonderful telling of his tale and those whose lives cross his path is insightful, humorous and full of pathos I was, by turn, amused then saddened by his story Harrison may have been a fictional character but many lives were shattered by the Committee on UnAmerican Activities and Edgar J Hoover and his band of merry men and those activities A HUGE thank you to Sally Howes for recommending this fine tome This novel would be a good place for Kingsolver beginner to start and a great place for her fans to continue reading her magical novels 4.5 I hated this book I couldn t even finish it I started it and had so much trouble reading it that I put it down and didn t even want to pick it back up Curious, I went to Goodreads to see what other people had said about it Surprisingly, a lot of people loved it A couple of people couldn t finish it, but the majority gave it good reviews So I thought I d give it another try Ugh For the life of me, I couldn t figure out its appeal I just Googled it and found a NPR review that made me feel I hated this book I couldn t even finish it I started it and had so much trouble reading it that I put it down and didn t even want to pick it back up Curious, I went to Goodreads to see what other people had said about it Surprisingly, a lot of people loved it A couple of people couldn t finish it, but the majority gave it good reviews So I thought I d give it another try Ugh For the life of me, I couldn t figure out its appeal I just Googled it and found a NPR review that made me feel much better It calls it Barbara Kingsolver s disappointing return, and uses the title to epitomize what s wrong with the book As NPR says, Lacuna refers to a gap or something that s absent The motif of the crucial missing piece runs throughout the novel, but the thing unintentionally missing here is an engaging main character Yes, that s it exactly.This book is about Harrison Shepherd, but at the beginning, he s referred to as The boy, so I was immediately distanced from him And then I was reading about him from his diaries And all along, it just was not interesting Apparently he s famous later on and meets famous people like Diego Riviera, Frida Kahlo and Lev Trotsky, but the book is just so friggin BORING In her most accomplished novel, Barbara Kingsolver takes us on an epic journey from the Mexico City of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J Edgar Hoover The Lacuna is a poignant story of a man pulled between two nations as they invent their modern identities Born in the United States, reared in a series of provisional households in Mexico from a coastal island jungle to s Mexico City Harrison Shepherd finds precarious shelter but no sense of home on his thrilling odyssey Life is whatever he learns from housekeepers who put him to work in the kitchen, errands he runs in the streets, and one fateful day, by mixing plaster for famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera He discovers a passion for Aztec history and meets the exotic, imperious artist Frida Kahlo, who will become his lifelong friend When he goes to work for Lev Trotsky, an exiled political leader fighting for his life, Shepherd inadvertently casts his lot with art and revolution, newspaper headlines and howling gossip, and a risk of terrible violence Meanwhile, to the north, the United States will soon be caught up in the internationalist goodwill of World War II There in the land of his birth, Shepherd believes he might remake himself in America s hopeful image and claim a voice of his own He finds support from an unlikely kindred soul, his stenographer, Mrs Brown, who will be far valuable to her employer than he could ever know Through darkening years, political winds continue to toss him between north and south in a plot that turns many times on the unspeakable breach the lacuna between truth and public presumption With deeply compelling characters, a vivid sense of place, and a clear grasp of how history and public opinion can shape a life, Barbara Kingsolver has created an unforgettable portrait of the artist and of art itself The Lacuna is a rich and daring work of literature, establishing its author as one of the most provocative and important of her time