Book Review

It is wood, it is stone By Gabriella Burnham | Book Review

Hey Everyone! My name is Max and, I am finally back from a long hiatus. The reason for my departure is that I was having my A-levels exams and I wanted to place all my attention upon it. Therefore, I sincerely apologize for not publishing new content on my blog.

Anyway, I will be reviewing a novel called “It is wood, it is stone” by Gabriella Burnham today. “It is Wood, It is Stone” is her debut novel and, I would like to thank Times reads for sending a copy of this novel to me in exchange for a review!

Well, without further ado, let us get into the review section of this article.

Synopsis:

With sharp, gorgeous prose, It Is Wood, It Is Stone takes place over the course of a year in São Paulo, Brazil, in which two women’s lives intersect.

Linda, an anxious and restless American, has moved to São Paulo, with her husband, Dennis, who has accepted a yearlong professorship. As Dennis submerges himself in his work, Linda finds herself unmoored and adrift, feeling increasingly disassociated from her own body. Linda’s unwavering and skilled maid, Marta, has more claim to Linda’s home than Linda can fathom. Marta, who is struggling to make sense of complicated history and its racial tensions, is exasperated by Linda’s instability. One day, Linda leaves home with a charismatic and beguiling artist, whom she joins on a fervent adventure that causes reverberations felt by everyone, and ultimately binds Marta and Linda in a profoundly human, and tender, way.

Review:

The cover design for this novel is pulchritudinous. The leaves and the perennials surrounding the two women are, intricately drawn and I adore how the shirts on both the women merge with the colour of the background. Not only that, you can see the outline of the shirts so, it does not camouflage in the backdrop colour. Overall, this cover is just a total eye-candy.

“I had lost my job.
I didn’t have my own money.
All of our friends were your friends from the university.” –
It is wood, It is Stone, Gabriella Burnham.

The protagonist of this novel is christened Linda. From the quote above, you would discern that she has lost her sense of direction and goal in life and this novel follows a series of events of her finding herself and in doing so, the repercussions that follow after. At the beginning of the novel, she has plans to leave her husband, Dennis, as she wishes to have some space to find herself but she decides against it and starts anew in Sao Paulo with her husband (Dennis is positioned there for work) as she assumes that she could not survive without him due to financial concerns. Therefore, she stays. However, in doing so, she faces boredom and desolation in this new country as she does not have anyone to talk to when Dennis is away and her maid, Marta, did not seem to fancy her as much. Her ennui has gotten to a point where she intentionally discharges ink on Dennis’ work clothes with the university’s insignia and washing and scrubbing it but it is already beyond repair.* Then, she decides to head out to the bar and that is where she meets Celia. 

Celia is a character Linda admires. With her, Linda can finally express herself and they quickly become best friends. Celia is courageous, headstrong and has an air of freedom that Linda craves. She has a backstory that is rather appealing and it adds a lot to her character. However, she is also “the other woman” and I do not really like that even though it added an extra layer to the story. Linda enshrouds this newly found friendship from Dennis as she wants something to keep for herself. Thus, she fibs about her whereabouts and the only person that knows about this friendship is Marta.

Dennis is associated with The Provost and his wife, Melinda through his work and they belong to the upper-class citizens. Melinda is a racist that looks down on people like Marta (she is a black woman) and makes senseless accusations that Marta performs voodoo on them and steals their jewelry even though nothing of that sort happens. Dennis feels the need to add on to what Melinda’s proposing and he chimes in by saying that the shirt damaged by ink was destroyed by Marta even though it is not true.

Without spoiling anything, Marta and Linda’s relationship with each other consolidates towards the end of the novel. Marta shares her backstory and it enumerates so many more layers to her character which I absolutely adore but I wish her backstory is longer instead of resorting to 20 pages of character arc.

From what I have written above, you may notice that this novel deals with loneliness and what it brings, racism and classism. Although this novel has managed to present these themes, the author did not actually execute them well. Especially the topics on racism and classism. Both of those topics go nowhere in the novel and our protagonist, Linda still hangs out with Melinda even though she knows she is a racist. The topic on classism manages to present itself throughout the novel but it is never actually discussed which irritates me because I would like to comprehend the repercussion of both classes clashing. Loneliness and what it brings are done pretty well since it is consistently mentioned throughout the novel.

The writing style for this novel is a little complicated but I will attempt to explain it to the best of my ability. The protagonist’s husband, Dennis, is termed as ‘you’ in the novel. Therefore, the writing style may seem like it is addressing the readers but it is actually addressing Dennis and you can actually think of the whole book as a long letter with excruciatingly long details. When a character other than the protagonist’s backstory is being written, it will be bolded and the font will be smaller to indicate that their backstory is currently being told. Other than that, I thought the writing style was beautifully poetic and the author can string sentences together with ease and the purple prose is beautiful to witness.

I have 2 criticisms about the novel and those are the pacing of the novel and my inclination to pick the novel back up to read. Every time I put this book down, I do not have the urge to pick this novel back up to read and I have to physically force myself to do it so that I can get through the novel. I still cannot place my finger on why that is the case but I can confirm right now that this book has no reread value for me personally. The pacing for this novel is a little off. I find myself speeding through several sections of the book and slowing down in others. It is inconsistent and I wish that is not the case.

In conclusion, I would proffer this novel a 65% (C). Overall, it is a pretty mediocre read and I would not go around recommending this novel to anyone unless they want to read about loneliness and what it results in.


This is the end of my review for It is wood, it is stone By Gabriella Burnham! I hope you all enjoyed it and follow me with your email/Wordpress account to get notifications when I post a new article! Bye!

15 thoughts on “It is wood, it is stone By Gabriella Burnham | Book Review

      1. Truthfully, it just bored me to tears. I had read so many reviews about the beautiful writing and how everything flowed so seamlessly, but I felt like it dragged. Even worse, I wasn’t remotely interested in Linda, Marta, or Dennis. Maybe that was the issue? I would typically finish a book this length in 3-4 hours but it took me weeks. But if you look at reviews, it seems you and I share the minority opinion.

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  1. I felt tired and uninterested in the book just reading your boring description. There must have been some excitement or interesting interplay between the characters. I would never leave the potential reader with the feeling you left me in, and I have never read the book. As a reviewer, I believe you should never throw the writer under the bus. Leave them with a shred of accomplishment, after all, they sweat over the writing of the book.

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    1. It’s called constructive criticism gurl. As a book reviewer he’s entitled to his opinions and he’s speaking the truth. Just don’t say anything if you’ve got nothing good to say.

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    2. Sorry that I bore you with that lengthy description but I did not, as you implied, throw the author under the bus. I did not in any way disrespect the author, I only critiqued her work and this is based solely on my personal opinion. Anyway, thank you for your comment 🥰

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  2. It’s called constructive criticism gurl. As a book reviewer he’s entitled to his opinions and he’s speaking the truth. Just don’t say anything if you’ve got nothing good to say.

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