Welcome to my bookshelf

I am a voracious reader who is constantly found with her nose in a good (although sometimes not so good) book. I felt the need to share my experiences and suggestions, so here it is. Recommendations and comments are most definitely desired.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Crime and Punishment

Currently Reading: The Execution of Noa P. Singleton

Pg 198: "Language, after all, does have a way of cementing permanence in history, just like those handprints. People can do what they like with it once you're gone."

Not since July have I posted last. I am embarrassed and need to be better about keeping all you readers up to date, but alas, work is keeping me busy busy. Even now, I have another window open with all the Moon Facts I ought to be working on. Of course, as Noa's story shows, life is too short to fritter away and I need to get better about taking a bit of time for myself too.

Onto the book. Wow! What a great read! Noa metes out the details of her story in such an enticingly slow manner than one can't help but keep reading in order to find out what other secrets she has been keeping from not only us, but the other characters in the novel as well. Noa has spent the last ten years on death row in Pennsylvania for murdering another young woman her own age. Not until the end do we actually find out their specific relationship and the reasonings as well as actual events on that fateful day.

From the get go, Elizabeth Silver manages to make Noa a likable and intriguing character. As the reader, you can't help but be convinced of her innocence and rooting for a happy ending. Even as more and more details of the actual event are doled out, you are still waiting for the ball to drop and the false accusations dispelled. At the same time, other equally important, but somewhat more static, characters are revealed as their part in the story comes out. Splitting the narrative between the present and past, Silver does an excellent job of giving readers just enough information to keep them interested while withholding those crucial details that keep you reading. What a wonderfully crafted tale!

The main theme of this book revolves around the death penalty, something I have some strong feelings about. I remember in 9th grade when I made a speech in Comm Apps persuading my peers why it was not only wrong, but cost prohibitive and overall, worse for not only humanity as a whole, but in a more logistical sense, the state economy. Not a popular attitude to have here in Texas, but I still stand by my findings. Noa's tale just emphases this belief even more. It's like the flood of the other Noah, the one we are all familiar with from Sunday school and the like. A blanket solution is not the answer. Sure there are some truly depraved folks on death row across the country, but countless others are not what they seem. This tale just goes to show that there is certainly more than meets the eye.

Speaking on eyes, a lot of arguments for the death penalty are all about the old "eye for an eye" adage of yore. If you believe this, kuddos to you, but are you actually practicing it entirely throughout your life or is it just in special cases? Again, a solution that punishes the whole for the mistakes of the few.

The Execution of Noa P. Singleton delves into other social issues too besides capital punishment. Abortion, abandonment, education and equality are all explored as readers make their way through each section of the book, labeled with a brief timeline specifying the time between then and Day X, Noa's execution date. While all this makes it sound like you are in for a heavy read, fear not. Silver's clever wordsmithing and dynamic characters make for an approachable tale while still keeping your mind busy contemplating the "what ifs" and how these themes make their appearance in our own lives.

The moral of the story is that there is always more than meets the eye and sometimes the story that surfaces is only part of the tale. I will be contemplating these ideas for much time to come. OK. Back to my work. Here's hoping you hear from me again soon!


  1. I can't wait to read this book. I wrote my anti death penalty paper back when I was in a Catholic high school in the early 70's. It meant so much to me I kept it. The typewriter ink is fading but what I wrote and felt then is still true now. And listening to Sister Helen Prejean (Dead Man Walking) speak at the SMU Human Rights Lecture series a couple of years ago confirmed my position once again. Thanks for your thoughts and recommendation.

  2. Hi, Stephanie, hi -
    This author was interviewed on MPR and I immediately put this book on my reading list. After reading your review, I moved it to the top! Thank you for the time and thoughtfulness you put into your reviews. I know you are a very busy person - Your comments are always well-written and never rushed.