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The Last Suppers por Mandy Mikulencak
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The Last Suppers (edição 2017)

por Mandy Mikulencak (Autor)

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6410331,795 (4.11)Nenhum(a)
Set in 1950s Louisiana, Mandy Mikulencak's beautifully written and emotionally moving novel evokes bothThe Help andDead Man Walking with the story of an unforgettable woman whose quest to provide meals for death row prisoners leads her into the secrets of her own past. Many children have grown up in the shadow of Louisiana's Greenmount State Penitentiary. Most of them-sons and daughters of corrections officers and staff-left the place as soon as they could. Yet Ginny Polk chose to come back to work as a prison cook. She knows the harsh reality of life within those walls-the cries of men being beaten, the lines of shuffling inmates chained together. Yet she has never seen them as monsters, not even the ones sentenced to execution. That's why, among her duties, Ginny has taken on a special responsibility- preparing their last meals. Pot roast or red beans and rice, coconut cake with seven-minute frosting or pork neck stew . . . whatever the men ask for Ginny prepares, even meeting with their heartbroken relatives to get each recipe just right. It's her way of honoring their humanity, showing some compassion in their final hours. The prison board frowns upon the ritual, as does Roscoe Simms, Greenmount's Warden. Her daddy's best friend before he was murdered, Roscoe has always watched out for Ginny, and their friendship has evolved into something deep and unexpected. But when Ginny stumbles upon information about the man executed for killing her father, it leads to a series of dark and painful revelations. Truth, justice, mercy-none of these are as simple as Ginny once believed. And the most shocking crimes may not be the ones committed out of anger or greed, but the sacrifices we make for love. Advance praise for The Last Suppers "The Last Suppersheld me riveted from the first page to the last, a gorgeous novel that finds beauty in the most unlikely of places. This story has the social conscience of The Help, the unflinching honesty of The Shawshank Redemption, and a wholly original heroine whose humanity will touch your heart as she cooks her way to redemption." -Susan Wiggs, # 1 New York Timesbestselling author "A taut page-turner . . . had me in its grips to the shocking end of a well-crafted, gripping story." -Anna Jean Mayhew, author of The Dry Grass of August "Filled with heart and reverent solemnity, despair and hope, Mandy Mikulencak's writing is a sensitive, thoughtful narrative about finding freedom beyond the boundaries of what we believe of ourselves and of our past. With captivating characters, a unique premise, and set in sultry Louisiana, this story is as rich and enticing as the last suppers prepared, one you will want to linger over until the very last page." -Donna Everhart, author of The Education of Dixie Dupree… (mais)
Membro:amandanan
Título:The Last Suppers
Autores:Mandy Mikulencak (Autor)
Informação:A John Scognamiglio Book (2017), Edition: First Edition, 304 pages
Colecções:A sua biblioteca
Avaliação:*****
Etiquetas:female-author, southern

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The Last Suppers por Mandy Mikulencak

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Mostrando 1-5 de 10 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Completed riveted by this book from start to finish. Mikulencak is a true artist in that she made a story set in 1950s Louisiana about a prison cook who feeds the last meal to men on death row as interesting and enthralling as any book I've ever read. ( )
  amandanan | Jun 6, 2020 |
3.5 - but on the better side (hence the 4 stars in my rating lol)
It was different. ( )
  nwieme | Mar 19, 2020 |
4.5 stars.

Set during the 1950s,The Last Suppers by Mandy Mikulencak is an absolutely riveting novel about a young woman who is a cook at a Louisiana prison.

Ginny Polk works in the kitchen of the same prison her murdered father once worked as a guard. She is also romantically involved with her father's best friend, Roscoe Simmons, who is now the prison warden. Very much ahead of her time, Ginny is uninterested in marrying her much older lover since it would mean giving up her job in the prison kitchen. In another divergence from a typical white woman in the deep South, she considers her much older African American co-worker, Dot, to be her best friend and surrogate mother. While Ginny loves her job, her vocation lies in the meals she prepares for prisoners who are about to be put to death for their crimes. Although she never loses sight the horrific crimes these men have been convicted of committing, Ginny also feels they deserve one last act of compassion before they go to the electric chair.

Ginny is quite contemplative as she tries to understand what motivates her to take such care with the death row inmates' last meal. She is well aware that her traumatic childhood experiences are a factor in her devotion to ensuring their prisoners last supper has meaning. This curiosity is the catalyst that begins her quest to find answers to questions that have long troubled her, but it is a shocking discovery about her beloved father that jeopardizes everything she holds dear.

As she reminisces about her larger than life, garrulous father, Ginny slowly starts to understand that he had also had a dark side. Roscoe has tried to protect her from the truth about the man she idolizes but she has no choice but face the fact that her father also had a cruel streak. After she stumbles onto proof that shatters her illusions about him, Ginny sets out to right a horrific wrong, but she inadvertently uncovers the stunning truth about what happened the night of her father's murder.

The Last Suppers is starkly compelling novel that accurately depicts many of the issues of the time period including race relations and the deplorable conditions at the prison. Ginny is an empathetic young woman who is sometimes a little naive and impulsive, but her heart is always in the right place. With a multi-layered, richly developed and meticulously researched storyline, Mandy Mikulencak's debut is poignant, through-provoking and ultimately, redemptive. ( )
  kbranfield | Feb 3, 2020 |
Ginny Polk is in charge of the kitchen at a prison in Louisiana in the early 50s. It's a rough place to work but she grew up there because her late father was a guard and they had housing provided. Ginny is a very compassionate woman and one of her personal goals is to fix the last meal of the prisoners who are being put to death. She talks to them or their family before the last meal to find out what they really want for this final meal. The executions all take a large toll on Ginny because her mother made her witness the execution of the man who killed her father when she was only 8. Her early life could have made Ginny into a hard person but instead she is strong and independent much to the dismay of the prison board who doesn't like the special dinners that she makes for the condemned men.

Truth, justice, mercy—none of these are as simple as Ginny once believed. And the most shocking crimes may not be the ones committed out of anger or greed, but the sacrifices we make for love.

This is a wonderful book about tough subjects but it is well balanced by Ginny and her attitudes toward the prisoners. She is very well written and a character that I won't soon forget.

Thanks to the author for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own. ( )
  susan0316 | Jan 30, 2019 |
I think that most of us are attracted to controversial themes. After all, what is reading if not an opportunity to take a deeper look into issues that have shaped the world we live in? The issue of death penalty is one of the most discussed and divisive with strong opinions both in favour of and against this practice. I won’t bore you with my views on the matter, nor is it anyone’s business after all. However, this was the main reason The Last Suppers attracted my attention. The setting of New Orleans and the premise of the last supper before the execution of the convicted were factors that increased my curiosity. As it is, The Last Suppers was a rather interesting story with much potential but the writing and the overdone melodrama didn’t meet my personal standards and prevented me from connecting to the plot and to the characters.

The story takes place in New Orleans, primarily during the 50s although we are momentarily transferred to the 30s and the 40s to witness events that are strongly connected to the present narrative. Everything is seen through the eyes of Ginny, a young woman with a troubled past and a no less complicated present. Her work is one that few would envy. She is a cook in Greenmount State Penitentiary. Ginny has decided on a peculiar life mission. She prepares the last meals of those who are about to meet the justified or unjustified end. She wants to give them one last sweet memory by reminding them of beloved recipes, of happier moments at home with their families. Whether they deserve it or not is a continuous point of discussion throughout the novel. Continuous to the point of repetition but more on that later. The death of her father has been haunting her for most of her life and her relationship with his best friends doesn’t make things easier.

So what did I like in this novel? First of all, the depiction of the era and the unique atmosphere of New Orleans are remarkable. The sultry days and nights, the harsh daily life are vivid and I was transported there from the get-go. Seen as a Historical Novel, the writer did a marvelous job there. The themes she tackles are varied, difficult and very demanding. The loss of a parent at a young age, the emotional distance between a mother and a daughter, the complicated relationship with an older man are themes related to the personal life of the characters. And then, we have the important social background of the era. The discrimination between residents of the same city, the nightmare of the Ku Klux Klan, the social narrow-mindedness regarding women, the complicated issue of the death penalty and the convicted men’s former life provide plenty of material for an emotional and interesting discussion.

In my opinion, the problem is that the writing isn’t intense enough to communicate everything properly. I don’t know what this novel aspired to be. A Historical Fiction novel? A social critique against discriminations of any kind? A romance? All these together? Make of it what you will but there were times when I thought I was reading a sappy, melodramatic romance, full of hystericals and unrealistic, stale interactions. I’m not sure whether I am making any sense but in my opinion, the dialogue between the characters was sub-par as if it had sprung out of a low-quality movie. And the sad thing is that in those moments, the writing should have been rich in gravity and tension. The same complaint applies to the characters. Everyone -with the possible exception of Dot- seemed either naive or neurotic. Unengaging, blunt, frightfully unoriginal. Even Dot seemed a character that have seen in most examples of Southern Literature. Although Ginny started out quite well, she quickly became someone who couldn’t see the obvious implications of her questionable actions. Too much hysterics, sorry...This kind of literature isn’t for me. And I had seen the conclusion coming before I reached the halfway mark of the novel so no surprises there…

The most ‘’correct’’ personal rating for this novel would have been 2 stars. However, I am fully aware that my tastes and standards are quite weird. When I occupy my time with dark, difficult themes, I expect the writing to reflect the situations, well, ‘’darkly’’. I want realism, not a romantic ‘’will she, won’t she’’. In addition, I know that anything approaching sappy romance is a lost cause with me so I’d hate to be unjust because of my cold heart. There are many beloved GR friends who loved The Last Suppers. It just wasn't my cup of tea. In my eyes, it was a wasted opportunity.

Many thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange of an honest review.

My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.wordpress.com ( )
  AmaliaGavea | Jul 15, 2018 |
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Set in 1950s Louisiana, Mandy Mikulencak's beautifully written and emotionally moving novel evokes bothThe Help andDead Man Walking with the story of an unforgettable woman whose quest to provide meals for death row prisoners leads her into the secrets of her own past. Many children have grown up in the shadow of Louisiana's Greenmount State Penitentiary. Most of them-sons and daughters of corrections officers and staff-left the place as soon as they could. Yet Ginny Polk chose to come back to work as a prison cook. She knows the harsh reality of life within those walls-the cries of men being beaten, the lines of shuffling inmates chained together. Yet she has never seen them as monsters, not even the ones sentenced to execution. That's why, among her duties, Ginny has taken on a special responsibility- preparing their last meals. Pot roast or red beans and rice, coconut cake with seven-minute frosting or pork neck stew . . . whatever the men ask for Ginny prepares, even meeting with their heartbroken relatives to get each recipe just right. It's her way of honoring their humanity, showing some compassion in their final hours. The prison board frowns upon the ritual, as does Roscoe Simms, Greenmount's Warden. Her daddy's best friend before he was murdered, Roscoe has always watched out for Ginny, and their friendship has evolved into something deep and unexpected. But when Ginny stumbles upon information about the man executed for killing her father, it leads to a series of dark and painful revelations. Truth, justice, mercy-none of these are as simple as Ginny once believed. And the most shocking crimes may not be the ones committed out of anger or greed, but the sacrifices we make for love. Advance praise for The Last Suppers "The Last Suppersheld me riveted from the first page to the last, a gorgeous novel that finds beauty in the most unlikely of places. This story has the social conscience of The Help, the unflinching honesty of The Shawshank Redemption, and a wholly original heroine whose humanity will touch your heart as she cooks her way to redemption." -Susan Wiggs, # 1 New York Timesbestselling author "A taut page-turner . . . had me in its grips to the shocking end of a well-crafted, gripping story." -Anna Jean Mayhew, author of The Dry Grass of August "Filled with heart and reverent solemnity, despair and hope, Mandy Mikulencak's writing is a sensitive, thoughtful narrative about finding freedom beyond the boundaries of what we believe of ourselves and of our past. With captivating characters, a unique premise, and set in sultry Louisiana, this story is as rich and enticing as the last suppers prepared, one you will want to linger over until the very last page." -Donna Everhart, author of The Education of Dixie Dupree

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