Sunday, June 13, 2010

Assembling Georgia - Beth Carpel

Summary: Georgia Dunn, an underachieving Minneapolis chicken factory worker, is jolted out of her rut when engine parts inexplicably begin arriving in her mail. Faced with a flood of packages from an unknown sender with unfathomable motives, she must choose between her safe, tedious existence and a world of immediacy, of vulnerability and wide-open senses. But she learns that the joys and risks are not hers alone when she collides head-on with her past. (Summary from book - Image from

My Review: Georgia works in a chicken factory, spending the entire day with her hands up the bottom of a dead chicken. Her life is stagnant and mediocre, at best. Then one day she receives a package followed quickly by another and another. Soon her living room is full of parts, pistons, wires, and a handmade manual to build her own motorcycle. With this mysterious gift, Georgia ponders the possibility that she could get more out of life—something “beyond the ordinary”. And life changes for the better, and for the worse.

I’ll admit that, initially, my curiosity was only piqued by the mystery of who might be sending the packages. Even after it becomes obvious who sent them, I still cared enough to keep reading. This book's title perfectly portrays Georgia’s transformation – how she slowly learns to be alone, to be herself, and finds a freedom she never knew existed.

Assembling Georgia is written with deliberate movement, emotional intensity, and characters that linger even after the final page. I’ve spent an entire book’s worth of reading thinking about how to explain how this book made me feel. Despite all my attempts at originality, I kept flashing back to a term used in the book – “quiet expectancy”. Sometimes when I read a book, my head is filled with other things, only partially committed to the words on the page. With Assembling Georgia, it was almost like someone put a filter on the world around me. Everything got quiet. And I read.

My Rating: 4 Stars. For the sensitive reader: This book contains a graphic description of a violent act. While I believe that this scene was necessary in the context of the story, even critical to it, that didn’t make me like it any more. It was painful to read and I wanted it over with. There are also a few short bouts of swearing (mostly at the beginning and end of the book).

Sum it up: A convincing portrayal of one woman’s journey towards self-discovery and the unalterable truth.

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