Book review by Esther

Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League

Jonathan Odell

Published by: Bantam

RRP $36.99 


This book gives you confidence when you pick it up – for two reasons – there’s one of those “Love it, or return it” stickers on the front, and a promo stating that “If you enjoyed The Help, you’ll love this”. I enjoyed The Help, but I’d be returning this book.

Sadly, this novel never really capitalises on what could be a great story. It seems torn between being a novel about the oppressed, or the oppressor; and neither of the key female characters feels full or complete. They seem half-drawn and as a reader their motivations are never 100% clear. This is a great shame.

The novel is written by first time author, Jonathan Odell, and is loosely based in his childhood – this is perhaps why the characters of the children and men feel stronger and more believable.

Set in 1950 Mississippi this novel explores the beginning of the civil rights movement. It is told from the perspective of Hazel (rich and white) and Vida (poor and black).  The novel explores their lives and how they come together and form an unlikely friendship.

At times the novel is compelling and hard to put down, but the resolution of some of the story lines and the inclusion of some characters and plots seems at times like the author struggled to edit his work and couldn’t cull that, which on the whole, was unnecessary.

If you’ve not read The Help I would recommend that over this; however if you have a passion for novels written in this vein you may find this a satisfactory read.

Let me finish by saying I didn’t HATE this book, it was readable and as I’ve said at times I was keen to progress the story – but the hype promised on the front cover never delivered – and that was where the disappointment came from. I do wonder if I would have enjoyed it more, if my hopes we’re not set so high. 

 If you would like to win your own copy, CLICK HERE . Competition closes 21/5/15 and is open to NZ residents only.

About Esther Perriam

Esther Perriam
Esther Perriam is a Director of Eldernet. She’s worked in the business for over 15 years and has been lucky to visit many of the older person’s services around the country. She’s never short of an opinion on…pretty much anything. Esther really loves reading and you’ll see plenty of book reviews authored by her. As a mother of two children there’s not much free time but if there is she also enjoys cooking (for grown-ups, not the kids!) and anything beach related in her spare time. Esther has presented at conferences around New Zealand and is happy to be contacted in regards to speaking or presenting at your event.