THE WEDDING GIFT by Marlen Suyapa Bodden I’m still not sure where or when the prologue was supposed to take place – perhaps it was a dream? After some very stilted conversations and an inconsistent use of dialect, the story is interesting and holds your attention to the end. However, there are too many coincidences and the slaves are often well cared for (or allowed a lot of free time) by slave owners we are supposed to be appalled and repelled by. That is not to say slaves were not ill-treated and horribly abused, they were. Just that the depiction is as inconsistent as the dialect. Fathers in the antebellum South are shown as overbearing, browbeating, abusive scoundrels. Mothers are meek and cowed. Sons are distant and uncaring. In other words many of the characters are caricatures. Still I enjoyed the book. Book groups will be discussing slavery, abusive husbands and fathers, the role of women, education priorities, gossip and social ostracism among other topics. A comparison with The Help, To Kill a Mockingbird and/or The Color Purple would be an interesting discussion. Note: I read an Advance Reading Copy, I hope the map appears in the front of the book or in the body of the text in the “real” book.