Sunday, March 30, 2008

#27 - Bleeding Kansas

It took me at least 150 pages to get interested in this book enough to care what happened, but I'm glad I stuck it out. It got a lot more interesting toward the end. Here is a synopsis of the book copied from Barnes and Noble:

Set in the Kaw River Valley, where Paretsky grew up, Bleeding Kansas is the story of the Schapens and the Grelliers, two farm families whose histories have been entwined since the 1850s, when their ancestors settled the valley as antislavery immigrants.

Today, the Schapen family, still terrified by the lawlessness of the 1970s - when Lawrence was the most violent college town in the nation - have turned to that old-time religion for security. The Schapens keep a close eye on all their neighbors, most especially the Grelliers. They keep careful track of everyone's misdeeds, and print the most egregious on their family website. When Gina Haring, a Wiccan, moves into a nearby empty farmhouse and starts practicing pagan rites, the Schapens are so outraged that they begin an active harassment campaign against the Wiccans.

The family members worry, too, about who stands better with the Lord, they or the Grelliers. When a Schapen cow gives birth to what may be a "Perfect Red Heifer" - needed if the Temple is ever rebuilt in Jerusalem - the Schapens are convinced that God is indeed smiling on them.

The pastor at their church, Salvation Bible, proclaims: "We were given a miracle, a chance to make history, in Kansas. The nation and the world laugh at us. 'What is the matter with Kansas?' liberals ask. We have a chance to say, 'Nothing's the matter with Kansas, generation of vipers. Everything's right with Kansas.' What's the matter is, you have turned your backs on the truth of the risen Lord."

Despite parental cautions, the Grelliers' teenage children are enraged by the Schapens. All their short lives, they and the young Schapens have fought, first in theircountry elementary school and now in high school. One particularly angry confrontation causes Chip Grellier to be expelled from school and consequently to join the Army. Chip's death in Iraq is the catalyzing event for momentous, even monstrous, changes in the lives of not only the Schapens and the Grelliers but all the families in the Valley. The powerful, climactic scene at Gina Haring's Samhain bonfire will forever haunt the listener.

This is my challenge progress so far:

1. An Idiot Girl's Christmas - Laurie Notaro - 142 pages
2. The Missing - Chris Mooney - 360 pages
3. All the Numbers - Judy Merrill Larsen - 269 pages
4. The Quickie - James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge - 274 pages
5. The Darkest Evening of the Year - Dean Koontz - 354 pages
6. Plea of Insanity - Jilliane Hoffman - 598 pages
7. When Madeline Was Young - Jane Hamilton - 274 pages
8. Sunshine - Robin McKinley - 405 pages
9. Spying in High Heels - Gemma Halliday - 318 pages
10. I Am Legend - Richard Matheson - 312 pages
11. New Moon - Stephenie Meyer - 563 pages
12. Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City - Kirsten Miller - 380 pages
13. The Husband - Dean Koontz - 415 pages
14. Kiki Strike: The Empress's Tomb - Kirsten Miller - 369 pages
15. Plum Lucky - Janet Evanovich - 166 pages
16. Blood Rites - Jim Butcher - 372 pages
17. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox - 245 pages
18. Let the Right One In - John Ajvide Lindqvist - 513 pages
19. The Spellman Files - Lisa Lutz - 368 pages
20. Little Stalker - Jennifer Belle - 333 pages
21. Watchers - Dean Koontz - 352 pages
22. Lost and Found - Carolyn Parkhurst - 289 pages
23. Dead Beat - Jim Butcher - 396 pages
24. Steve & Me - Terri Irwin - 273 pages
25. Bright Lights, Big Ass - Jen Lancaster - 385 pages
26. Curse of the Spellmans - Lisa Lutz - 407 pages
27. Bleeding Kansas - Sara Paretsky - 431 pages

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