3 out of 4 stars
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I often wonder how people survived during the First World War and other economically threatening situations such as the Great Depression. What was life like, especially for poor families who had nothing but hope for a brighter day? Richard R. Gonzalez, Ph. D. wrote On Old Olympus Towering Top to shed the much-needed light about the plight of the society during some of the hardest historical events in America, Europe, Korea, and Mexico.
On Old Olympus Towering Top is Gonzalez’s first historical fiction novel. It contains 32 chapters. The novel revolves around the life of Louis Tellez (Lou) and the struggles that people faced during the First World War, the Mexican Revolution, and the Great Depression. Lou’s parents, Joseph and Lourdes, belonged to the Tigua Community. Rosalia (Joseph’s first cousin and close friend) raised Lou as his nanny. One of the major challenges that affected the family was the lack of sufficient funds to cater for their basic needs. Could Lou achieve his dream of becoming a medical doctor during that era?
I liked many aspects of the book. It takes the reader back to the early 1900s with a keen insight on the historical developments that were achieved despite the grueling economic conditions. For instance, to ensure that America had a good supply of medical personnel to cater for the war needs, “the medical school classes were to become accelerated and compressed from four full years into seven terms … (112 weeks or 26 months in all).” That must have been a tedious journey for the students.
I was glad to learn that there were good people who were dedicated to serving humanity irrespective of race or social background. Arthur’s family (of Jewish American descent) had survived many hardships and readily helped Lou’s family whenever they needed help. Arthur’s children, Izzy and Anne, did not despise Lou even though they belonged to an affluent family. Young people will learn a lot from the interactions of the two families by reading this novel.
Mr. Gonzalez had done in-depth research about all the historical aspects that are in the book. That was incredible. The novel contains well-written footnotes and a Works Cited page. I felt that the footnotes disrupted the flow of the book severally. At some point, I felt like I was reading a history research paper. Although it is good to show the sources that one used in writing a book, I never thought I would have to read them in a novel. Many readers who enjoy sticking to the flow of the main story in the novel may find the footnotes quite disturbing.
The book was not professionally edited. I noted several errors that could have been easily eliminated by an editor. For instance, “Lourdes never complained because the work provided Lourdes with a positive challenge to …” should have been “Lourdes never complained because the work provided her with a positive challenge to …” The novel also had typos, grammatical errors, and missing punctuation marks. Overall, I rate the novel 3 out of 4 stars. The errors made me deduct a star in the rating. I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a book that covers a whole lot about the lives of people who witnessed firsthand the historical events of WWI and the scientific discoveries made during that time. For the young people of the contemporary society, the novel will help them appreciate many things that they take for granted.
On Old Olympus Towering Top
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