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The Tide King (2013)

by Jen Michalski(Favorite Author)
4.33 of 5 Votes: 1
1937854833 (ISBN13: 9781937854836)
Black Lawrence Press
review 1: I won and received this book for free through the GoodReads giveaway program. As I write my review here, I will try not to give away the storyline plot so you may read it to form your own opinions.GoodReads is stating this book contains 525 pages, however, my copy contains 361. I will be sure to cross check my copy to a library/book store copy to be sure I have read the entire story. I do feel that I have read the story with a beginning, middle, climax, and end. I do like how the ending meets up with the prologue bringing the story to a complete circle. Very well organized; my "reading loop" is complete and I don't feel "out-of-sync."I was in love with the storyline cover to cover. The settings of Baltimore and Poland hit very close to home for me. I found I wanted to keep... more reading and reading to discover the conclusion.I really like the organization of the storyline being told through the three (and later four) characters stories. This organization told me they were all connected in some form and as the story develops, you begin to see the connections. The one conflict I discovered is during Ela's story; I found I needed to flip back to remember which year her previous story took place in order to focus on the new story unfolding. And with Stanley and Johnson's stories in-between it can be a little frustrating trying to find the previous year. I did find it a little difficult going from 1947 then jumping to 1960 and 1970 followed by a reverse of 1964 with Stanley and Johnson's stories. This point in the story, I found to be a turning point in seeing/understanding the true power of what is at hand. one character/storyline note I would liek to share: I was very fond to read about Johnson's parents with him being gone for so long. my first thought was "are his parents still around?"With the various years working around each other, Ela's story begins to catch up with the year 1938 then 1964. It is great knowing when the story goes "back in time," one can adjust themselves for Ela's story.I also like how Ela and Johnson have to adapt to the new world they are born into again after a decade or so passes. Michalski gives great details of radios (box making noise), lights, cars, fabric, photography, etc. You really understand how much the world has completely changed from the late 1800's and 1940s.SPOILER ALERT: I was not too fond of the conclusion of the story. Yes, it met up with the prologue and completed "my circle." But the character of Heidi I could have smacked. She goes on and on about how her life is so miserable yet she uses "the power" to continue with life in her current form? I just could not understand this logic. I would have much preferred Johnson giving the lab "the power" to conduct experiments and discover its true form. But that is all in the mystery of storytelling. I am happy Ela is returning to Poland. The story seemed complete, but maybe there is a follow up?Again, I would like to say, "Thank You" to Michalski in making sure I received her book, "The Tide King." I appreciate the small note and autograph as well. Happy Reading! (4.5 out of 5)
review 2: Michalski’s novel, winner of Best Fiction from Baltimore’s City Paper, is the story of Stanley Polensky and Calvin Johnson, thrown together in the trenches of WWII, their forced intimacy creating an unlikely friendship between the shy Polish boy from Baltimore and the tough Midwestern farmboy. It is also the story of a girl named Ela Zdunk, who lives with her mother outside the small mountain village of Reszel in Poland in 1806. Ela helps her mother find flowers and roots to use in the tinctures and medicines that Barbara sells or trades to the villagers. They, of course, believe she is a witch; they fear her and propitiate her with gifts of food, enabling Barbara and Ela to scrape out a life of sorts. Until the Prussian soldiers come.Michalski, who has also published several collections of short stories, delivers her tale in prose that seems almost transparent. It is a good mix of natural dialogue, effective description, and brief narrative. Reading it seems as effortless as breathing. The occasional subtle references to other books and stories reward those who recognise them without tripping up those who don’t.The book defies categorization. It’s not purely realistic but neither is it science fiction. Perhaps all you need to know is that it is a good read and will—if you allow it—provoke thoughtful and intense conversations with yourself and others about the use we make of our lives and how we touch and care for others. less
Reviews (see all)
This is a beautiful book, where the impossible becomes not only plausible but poetic.
A hugely original, compelling, vividly told story. Highly recommended.
The University of Chicago Alumni Book Club's August selection.
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