I love all books, but I find fantasy and science fiction most enjoyable. I read whenever I can outside of school, which mostly leads to bursts of literature over breaks.
My Ántonia is a classic novel of life on the frontier. It follows the life of Jim Burden, and his spirited friend Ántonia, as they make lives for themselves. I rated the book three out of five stars because I found the plot very bland and uninteresting. It had no real story arc, and it read almost like a biography. However, I did find the descriptions of the mighty plains of Nebraska gripping. Willa Cather uses beautiful imagery and brings her descriptions alive with a generous spicing of personification and metaphors. My Ántonia certainly isn't the worst book I've ever read, especially for school, but I was not particularly impressed. As much as I was bored by it at times, I agree with the way we read through the entire book. I am for following a book through, and I feel that if next year's eighth graders only read the first book, they would be abandoning the characters and plot. They would also miss out on Cather's gorgeous language and might lose some of the important themes behind the novel.
My Ántonia covers an array of topics and themes. Some are very straight forward such as how hard life is for an immigrant, or the contrast between city life and country life. However, some messages went deeper, and stuck with me even after I closed the book. The most important lesson of the novel, in my opinion, are the deep ties that friendship creates. Jim and Ántonia stay together over the years, and thoughts of one another are never far from their minds. The reader can see just how much these two love each other, along with many of their childhood friends. So deep is their affection that they spend a great deal of the book reminiscing on old times, wondering why they didn't take advantage of their time together. However, they both realize that for however long they will be separated, the bonds that they created will last.
Willa Cather's use of imagery adds depth to an otherwise bland book, and creates a vivid picture of the dramatic setting of the novel. Her descriptions compare things that never even crossed my mind as similar. One example is on page 42, where she has two beautiful similes: "Whenever one looked at this slope against the setting sun, the circle showed like a pattern in the grass; and this morning, when the first light spray of snow lay over it, it came out with wonderful distinctness, like strokes of Chinese white on canvas." Here Cather compares a faint circle in the grass to a pattern, a simple enough simile. But the way she says it is "like strokes of Chinese white on canvas" brings to mind beautiful imagery. By hearing this sort of wondrous language throughout the book, it helped me to see through the eyes of Jim Burdan, and appreciate the beauty he found every day in his home. The language in My Ántonia makes the text interesting, and all in all makes the book a fairly enjoyable read.