3 out of 4 stars
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After helping the police nab the guy who was responsible for her best friend’s sudden death, KT finds herself on the receiving end of a series of death threats. As the threats intensify, KT is forced to take on a new identity and relocate temporarily. To retain a sense of normalcy in her new and somewhat initially isolating life, KT continues to delve deeper into a copy of her great-great-grandmother’s diary, which was originally written in the late eighteen hundreds. Through her great-great-grandmother’s narration of her struggles and life experience in her time, KT draws inspiration and strength to face challenges in her own life in the twenty-first century. However, she also encounters information that upsets her and makes her question everything she thought she knew about her great-great-grandmother, Kati.
G. W. Wayne’s KT RISING: Privilege is a Prison is a compelling work of fiction with elements of historical fiction, thriller, and mystery sprinkled throughout the narrative. Even though this is the second book in the Chronicling a Family’s Lives series, it can be read as a standalone.
KT RISING has no chapters; the story unfolds through a number of diary entries by KT followed by that of her then great-great-grandmother, Kati. Kati’s entries are usually followed by commentary from Cara, who was KT’s grandmother. Cara’s commentary often offers insight, facts, or further clarification about the events of that time period as per her research.
Through the women’s diaries, I gained a deep understanding of the two main characters' personalities, emotions, and daily lives. At first, I didn’t find KT likable or relatable—her character came across as shallow, and she only seemed to care about partying and boys. In addition, KT’s thoughts sometimes seemed random and disconnected from her previous train of thought and everything going on around her. However, as time went on, I got to see different dimensions to her character through different circumstances, some of which I gained an appreciation for.
Kati’s diary was a gem for me because it detailed her involvement in the suffragette movement, the struggle of mill workers, and the immigrant experience in the late eighteen hundreds: highlighting some of their practices/traditions, risks they took, and circumstances they persevered through for the promise of a better life. I really appreciated Kati’s voice and her unwittingly humorous descriptions of her intimate desires. Also, she was an intelligent and driven woman. She carried herself with respect and expected that others do so as well.
The author’s expert knowledge of the time period (the late 1800s) is evident in the vivid descriptions of the places, atmosphere, and attitudes of the people. Additionally, Kati’s speech and mannerisms felt reminiscent of the people of her time. I also appreciated that the dialogues flowed naturally regardless of the era depicted in the narrative.
There were a few aspects that had me zoning out while reading the book. It took me a while to adjust to the constant and sometimes unprompted switch-and-jump from one aspect of the story to another. It felt like there was so much going on, which was a little overwhelming, and it seemed to slow down the pace of the overall narrative.
Despite the author’s generally easy-to-read writing style, the text exchanges between characters were tedious to read as each text from the same day was dated and had information about the sender, even when it was obvious that it was part of a text exchange and who the sender was. Moreover, I didn’t like the detailed description of mundane day-to-day activities. I also didn’t like the oversharing of historical details and content of the book Kati read, especially when the specifics didn’t seem integral to the story.
This book would be great for those interested in the life of an immigrant in the late eighteen hundreds. Those into thrillers will find KT’s part of the story interesting as well. The novel does contain strong language, as well as vivid descriptions of violence and a corpse. Therefore, it’s most suitable for a mature audience. The book appeared professionally edited, as I only encountered a few minor errors. All things considered, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars.
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