“Manroot” Anne Steinberg

Rated 1 star * ebook. 2014. Amazon Digital Services* (see note below)

ManrootIn the year 1939 Katherine and her father Jesse, who had been traveling the country seeking work, found themselves in the sleepy town of Castlewood alongside the Meramec River in Missouri. There they were taken in by Freda, the head cook of a local hotel, where Katherine soon found herself alone when Jesse decided to set off for greener pastures without her.

Katherine enjoyed working as a maid and became adept at discovering the healing properties of native plants and herbs, a skill inherited from her Navajo mother. Despite many superstitious tendencies regarding the river, animals and nature, Katherine thrived in her new environment. She was content until a barrage of emotions towards Judge William Reardon, a married man who frequented the hotel and local whorehouses, was unleashed. A strange magical quality seemed to exist between them, and their love for each other knew no bounds. Throughout their affair, Katherine felt a strange sense of foreboding but not even she could predict the future and how they would come to be inextricably bound in a web of love, deceit, hatred and fear.

I found “Manroot” at times to be rambling, forcing the reader to endure more information than was necessary as the author jumped from thought to thought. I didn’t quite get the significance of searching for, and finding, manroot nor why finding one that looked like a man seemed to be significant. In later chapters (even up until they grew up) the children we meet later in the book joined her in this search but the reasoning for it still escaped me.

In addition, Steinberg used stereotypical terms when she described Katherine as being “slender and agile” with “small breasts set high on her torso” then went on to say this was “unlike the soft cow-like appearance of many mature Navajo women.” I found this to be very insulting to Navajo women. Towards the end of the book one of the characters admitted to feeling shame because of how she’d thought Katherine was ignorant, when in fact she was quite intelligent, but this early statement by the author about Navajo women still gnawed at me.

She later went on to use the word “gypped” to describe someone being cheated out of something, an insult towards Gypsies, and I found both prejudicial examples to be quite distasteful. In addition her excessive use of exclamation points was very distracting. I lost track of how many she used in just the first chapter, all of which showed Steinberg could have used a good editor.

At times I did find myself wondering about Katherine’s children and how the future would play out for them but, overall, I didn’t like “Manroot.” However I will leave it up to you to decide if You Want to Read it or Not.

*NOTE: Though the author commented on another site that the book was not self published and was edited by the Publisher Headline Review in London, England, I still thought it needed editing.


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