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Sex on Earth: A Celebration of Animal Reproduction
Jules Howard

Our Lives Are the Rivers: A Novel

Our Lives Are the Rivers: A Novel - Jaime Manrique Overall, the author of this book took an interesting premise and an interesting real woman and turned them into a dreadful novel. I don't think I have rolled my eyes or yelled at a book this often in quite some time. The tone of the book felt too modern for a book supposedly set in the early 1800s. Manuela did not feel genuine to me. The times when the author tried to convey what Manuela may have been thinking felt forced and from a point of view of a man's belief of what a woman thinks.

The dialogue was poorly written and often unbelievable. The course of the book was severely aggravating as it never flowed, it was very stilted. The book moves in the general correct direction but the flashbacks can be confusing, especially when the author does not indicate when the flashback has truly ended. There was little elaboration, especially in scenes where there felt like there needed to be. I think the author left some scenes to our imagination just because he couldn't come up with anything himself. What elaboration there was included the author telling us rather than showing us what was going on.

The inclusion of Manuel's two slaves as additional narrators of the story was completely unnecessary. Their parts rarely added anything to the story. Often the point of view was also misplaced and off by a few years. The novel essentially felt like Manrique took facts of Manuela's life and wrote things around them and inserted paragraphs when he felt necessary. It was on the level of a boring term paper written in the first person narrative.

Also, while some of the scenes may have actually occurred Manrique wrote them in a very unbelievable style. **Spoiler** Such as when Manuela catches Bolivar in bed with another woman. She attacks the woman and Bolivar. But immediately after she treats Bolivar's wounds. The immediate next paragraph has Bolivar asking her to move in with her and everything is just peachy! Are you kidding me? No elaboration regarding Manuela's feelings? Her contemplations? Nada? Insane! *End of Spoiler*

In addition, one thing that annoyed me was the sex scenes, if you will call them that. There was little actual romance in the novel aside from Manuela's pining for Bolivar so when there was suddenly a sentence or two about them being intimate it felt out of the blue. The few sex scenes (well, sentences) there were felt out of place, laughable and quite frankly disturbing in the manner they were written. Want a laugh? See page 149 and 193. This entire novel did nothing but frustrate me!