Anna-Marie McLemore – The Weight of Feathers | The Question of Free Will

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Title: The Weight of Feathers

Author: Anna-Marie McLemore

Author’s Country of Birth: USA

Ethnicity: Hispanic

Genre: Drama/Romance

Page Numbers: 308

Publish Year: 2015

Rating: ☆☆☆☆

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What Is It About?

The Name is forbidden.  Being touched by Them can certainly mean death.  If you see a feather–any feather–you have to burn whatever it has touched for what it has touched becomes tainted.  This is what means…to be a Paloma for Lace.

For years, the feud between the two rival families, the Palomas and the Corbeaus, have escalated into violence and even deaths.  Both families are competing circus performers, with the Palomas specializing in river mermaid shows–and the Corbeaus being tight-rope walkers, with feathered wings.  But when Cluck Corbeau rescues Lace Paloma, Lace is thrown into unfamiliar territories of love, hate, and family secrets that will make her question just about everything that made her a Paloma.

Initial Thoughts…

POC protagonists? Check.  Strong heroine? Check.  Interracial relationships? Check.

Because it was inspired by William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”–I was feeling a bit uneasy when I stumbled upon this re-telling, because I wasn’t sure if I could handle any more unhappy and tragic endings to star-crossed lovers.  However, being in an interracial relationship myself, I wanted to read a book that I can relate to and feature two people of different races.  The fact that “The Weight of Feathers” revolve around two traditional families of French and Spanish heritages–AND still speak the two languages?  That was what helped sold me into getting my hands on the book.

Well, then, there’s also the fact that the whole story takes place in the Central Valley–Central California–close to where I currently live.  Instead of a typical setting in Los Angeles, New York City, or major city in the States, I found that pretty refreshing.  All the bits that made this book? They were all unique, and I knew this was a hard find for me.

How To Describe the Overall Book?

Personally, I felt that the book started out a bit slow in the beginning, but that was because McLemore had to fill the reader in about both family backgrounds and set the mood situation, regarding how they each feel about the other.  After that though, in between switching off from Lace’s to Cluck’s perspectives–both in third-person narrative–the story plot gradually progressed in an interesting way due to the constant build-up of details and chain of events that, of course, comes to play a huge role altogether later on.  “The Weight of Feathers” definitely surpassed my expectations by a MAJOR landslide–and I found that just because it was inspired by “Romeo and Juliet”, it was not cliche at all.  So, no sweet poetry or anything like that.

However, there was a love that felt so real and modern to me as a reader.  As a result, I was sucked furthermore into the story–and finished the entire book in 4 reading sessions.  Overall, the book itself was amazing!  It was original, the theme was consistent–all of my questions were answered–and honestly, I was pretty content.

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What’s My Favorite Part?

One of the major factors that I look for when reading a story–is good and strong character development whether that means a protagonist becoming a villain…or the protagonist becoming a better version of themselves and has overcome their obstacles.  Thoughout the story, Lace always remained as a strong female protagonist but she had her own naive moments and close-mindedness.  Despite this, her courage and boldness shone through, and she was the perfect foil to Cluck’s personality just as he was to her.  Then, there was Cluck.  I loved him so much, because I had empathy for him–and eventually, I too saw his character flaws, flaws that made him just as Human as anyone else–and weaknesses also.  Both main characters share these Human traits–and it gave them both more dimension.  Eventually, they went on to challenge these flaws and weaknesses of theirs.  Another thing I love–is that they build each other up.

So, I kept reading!  McLemore then strategically set up and arranged each major dramatic event, using the family hierarchies to her advantage–to launch the chain of events that kept popping in, producing ripple effects that could be felt throughout the rest of the story.  Ripple effects that helped both Lace and Cluck grow as people.

Not only was there strong character development and a well thought-out chain reaction that contributed greatly to the overall climax–and to the ending–there was also another significant component that held the story altogether: consistency.  The theme could be felt again and again in each event, especially when it revolved around family.  In addition, the symbolism was seen various times during the most critical moments between characters–causing one to be always curious and at the edge of their seat.

What’s My Least Favorite Part?

To be honest, at first, the feelings of both Cluck and Lace felt awkward and forced at times–leaving me feeling a bit irritated.  I knew that McLemore wanted these early events between the main characters to happen because they are both romantic interests–but I couldn’t quite pin-point why they felt so unnatural to me.  After some time though, the romance started to feel less rigid, and everything began falling into place.  “The Weight of Feathers” was McLemore’s first book, and so, I could understand why there were a few problem areas.

And So…

Unlike most books that I have read in the past, I was left feeling quite impressed by how well McLemore tied up all the loose ends and answered all of my questions about both families.  What was thought as a simple plot–actually thickened and was more complicated than I took it for.  With shocking secrets being revealed from whichever end–and then, the reader realizing that “The Weight of Feathers” was more than just a romance novel–one’s interpretation of the book can change again and again.  I, for one, closed the book–knowing what struck me the most.

And that was the weight of every feather.

What Book Made You Become a Reader?

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“Now, class, do you know what time it is?” She’d ask us.  The teacher had pulled out a chair out to the small carpet area and sat down in front of all the children, who are sitting still–with their legs crossed.  She reached into the large canvas bag next to her chair and out of the bag, she took out a large book–not too thick with pages, but big enough for us to see that it was a brightly-illustrated with a woman, mermaids, fairies, and small magical people.  “It’s time for Read Aloud!”

And…I really did love Read Aloud time.

That day she introduced the class to Virginia Hamilton’s “Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales”–and though I wasn’t sure who was all paying attention or interested in the book–I knew that at least, I was.  I hung onto every word, picturing demons making bargains with me, fairies, and though I don’t remember very much about everything now–I do still remember how that book made me feel.

Curious.

Then, one day, the teacher stopped reading.  She said it was time for her to move onto the next book.  I asked her why, and she simply told me that it was time for her to return the book to the school library–so, I went down to the library to read the rest myself.

Which surprised the librarians there–because I wasn’t “old enough” to read from what they called, The Teacher’s Section.  I wasn’t even allowed to be lingering there.  But the kind older women exchanged smiles at one another, looks even–and told me that “they would do something about that”–got me the SAME book–checked it out for me–and whispered, “Now, just make sure to return it, okay?”

And I did.

Then, the librarians would go over to the Teacher’s Section and check out the books about Greek mythology, Japanese folklores, Chinese myths and legends, and so on forth.  They would give me recommendations upon recommendations–and I would read them all.  And it all started because of “Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales.”

That one book made me become a reader, and it was enough to make a huge difference in my life.

It allowed me to travel outside of the classroom and my home, it took me out to meet interesting & unique characters, and it helped me escape boredom with all kinds of adventures.  If I remember it correctly, each story in the book ended with a lesson for children–and they were all very clever.  I wanted to know about everything, and so, I was encouraged to read more–and finish it, without the teacher.

18 years later, and I still remembered that day.

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