Monday, May 14, 2012

Fifth Born II: The Hundredth Turtle

About ten years ago, I read Fifth Born.  It's about Odessa, a St. Louis girl who experienced mistreatment from her mother and sexual abuse from her father during the 1960s and 1970s. It was a book that I highly enjoyed and it has stuck with me to this day.

When I read from another blogger that there was a sequel, I wanted to read it.  My local library didn't have it, but I was lucky that my employer offers a ILL service where books are shared among the colleges in the state.  One of the community colleges had the book and it was sent my way.

(MAJOR SPOILER ALERT! If you have not read the first book, you may want to skip to the end.) I was so glad that the sequel rehashed the end of the first book.  Odessa finds out that her assumed crazy aunt Ella Mae (who lives in Mississippi) is her real mother and that she was a product of rape (the aunt was raped by her father).  Odessa is left in Mississippi after she confronts her parents, especially her father, about her real paternity.

So The Hundredth Turtle focuses on what happens after Odessa is left in Mississippi.  She works on connecting with Ella Mae and maintains a relationship with her brother Lamont, who has been ostracize by other members of their family for being gay.  Among her other struggles of growing into adulthood and surviving her past, she also has to deal with Lamont's sexuality and his terminal illness.

To me, this book was OK.  There were some parts that were slow and other parts that happened so fast that it made your head spin and left you with questions.  There were times that I wanted to tell Odessa to confront her past and get some courage!  And the pop culture junkie in me didn't like that certain pop culture references were dropped before they actually happened (ex. based on the timeline of the book, Madonna's name was dropped before she became the huge star that she is today and the characters listening to Push It on the radio around '83-'84 when it came out in '86).  I think a lot of this happened because it was self-published (not knocking self-publishers and small publishers!) and I think an editor would have helped her with the timeline of this book.  Also, one of the (small, as in size) characters stayed the same age FOREVER.

I would recommend this book if you are really dying to know what happened to Odessa and her family after the first book.  But I did feel kind of let down after enjoying the first book so much.


  1. To be honest, though I enjoyed the first book, the name of the second one is slightly turning me off. The Hundredth Turtle? It sounds like a novel about sea animals.

    I might have to pass this one up, or wait until my reading list simmers down before I pick it up.

  2. It's called The Hundredth Turtle because when a sea turtle lays eggs and they hatch, only one of a hundred baby turtles make it. I think that makes sense. But come to think about it, I don't know how it totally relates to the book. Surviving, yes, but how it relates to the rest of it, I'm not sure (even though I do have some kind of idea). But I agree with your suggestion to wait.