Liberty Landing - a 2016 Finalist for the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction - narrates the American experience of the 21st century through the lives of a polycultural cast of natives, immigrants, and refugees in Azyl Park, a town in the Midwest.
After Angeline Lalande, a journalist and historian, unearths the real meaning of the name Azyl, conferred on the town in the 1800s by immigrant-hating politicians, the town elders begin the act of renaming it. During the course of the renaming, we meet the intriguing denizens of the town -survivors, strugglers, and strivers of every race and nationality, and see the intersection of their lives and the ways they find home, heaven, and haven in each other. We learn about the singular journeys that brought them to Azyl Park, a place that both transforms them and is transformed by them.
The larger story of the American experiment is told through the personal story of Alexander Hamilton, the essential immigrant among the Founding Fathers, as Angeline writes a book about him. By the end of the novel, after Azyl Park is renamed, each of the characters has lost or found something essential.
Liberty Landing is about the personal and the political, family and loss, memory and migration, finding new love and a new home, and history and the American experiment. Seminal moments of the American experience figure in this literary and historical fiction. Inspired by John Dos Passos' USA Trilogy about early 20th century Americans, Liberty Landing is a sweeping, lush, layered saga set in a vibrant community with a diverse, international cast of characters, people marked by neuroses, flaws, secrets, unspeakable pasts, humor, warmth, vulnerability, and humanity. Liberty Landing is Gail Vida Hamburg's love letter to the American experiment - the first in a trilogy.
What members say
It's all about the characters
This wasn’t the book I was expecting but it turned out to be interesting. The story opens with Gabriel who’s just gotten off the bus in Azyl Park with no Green Card, no family or friends, no references. Within a few days he has a job working at an upscale store that sells diamonds. In fact, within the first week of working there, he’s trusted with access to the diamond vault. This seemed quite a stretch for me and I worried how the rest of the story would go. After all, Gabriel isn’t related to anyone at his new job, he’s not friends with the boss, and he arrived with no references. It’s just Gabriel’s good nature that prevents him from stealing some diamonds and running off.
Despite that unrealistic opening, the rest of the tale was endearing and rooted in reality. Gabriel went on to be one of my favorite characters. We also meet Neena who is a professional match maker, Tina Trang who works in real estate, Angeline who is a professional journalist, and an Australian celebrity in hiding. Tina often came off as a little mean and yet I still liked her. I could see why she was frustrated with her husband, who was stuck on searching for spiritual balance and peace instead of living life. I also really liked the Australian bloke (sorry I forgot his name) because he made the hard choice to walk away from his ridiculous celebrity life in search of something more meaningful.
Neena became the heart of this story but at first I wasn’t sure I would connect with her. I tend to view professional match makers with a bit of skepticism. While Neena’s truly in it for true love, not all her matches are twin soul matches. I especially became interested in her family. She and her husband emigrated from India and now their grown children need to be reminded of their heritage. I was quite attached to her by the end of the tale.
Angeline has been researching her own heritage as well as Alexander Hamilton. She comes from the Caribbean island of Nevis by way of Louisiana and Washington D.C. Gabriel has great respect for her work, especially covering Palestinian affairs. Initially, I was intrigued by Angeline and I thoroughly enjoyed the little snippets on Hamilton. However, there were several moments where I found Angeline to be a little immature and emotionally insecure. That bogged the story down a bit.
Over all, it’s a tale where not much happens but you fall in love with several of the characters anyways. It’s all about character development in this book. 4/5 stars.
The Narration: Colleen MacMahon has a very pleasant voice to listen to. While she has a nice light English accent, her accents for many of the characters didn’t come through at all. Since so many of the characters are newly immigrated to the US, I expected to hear those accents reflected in this narration. Indian, Palestinian, Korean, Australian, etc. And since this story takes place in the US, I expected to hear an American accent but several words, like turquoise, were not pronounced in the American way. Her best accent was the Australian one, though it did fluctuate a bit. Sometimes I could hear that she was attempting the others, but they weren’t clear or consistent. Her pacing was also a little slow. There were no technical issues with this recording. 3/5 stars.
I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Gail Vida Hamburg. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
- ElyLibrarySec @AudiobookObsession
We always seem to start with the good news and I will do the same here. I enjoyed listening to Colleen MacMahon tell me this story. With the subject of the book I think having it told to me with an accent just gave me a better sense of the characters. But it didn't help me figure out where this story was going.
One minute my mind was going in one direction and then just as quickly my mind was taken somewhere else. I almost felt like I had to listen to the scene again and again so that I could figure out what was going on. With the current questions as to what's going to happen to those trying to immigrate into our country, I liked the idea of a journalist helping me unfold the history of a town. It's at this point where I got lost. There was just so much going on that trying to lock onto what was going on with these people became almost impossible.
I went into this liking the idea of in a small way connecting with my own ancestors that were immigrants themselves - this is what our country was built on. It's something we take for granted as we go about our daily lives. We walk by people but we don't know their story or that of their family history. And this is why historians become important. They're needed to fill in the blanks.
For me, I felt that I needed to have the written word in order to better help me figure out the story our narrator was telling me. I couldn't blame my confusion on my iPod because there were no issues that arose while listening. I couldn't even blame it on distractions. It's possible that someone else wouldn't have the same issues and that's why reviews become important. But this did leave me curious as to the other book our author has written.
I voluntarily reviewed an Audiobook copy of this book.