Review: Unstoppable Octobia May

Upon watching one of Richard’s videos, he mentioned Unstoppable Octobia May and how he enjoyed reading it.  His review of it enticed me and I immediately went on Paperback Swap to see if they had it available. Lucky for me they did and I requested the book.  It took me a few months from the time I received it, to the time I began to read it.

Unstoppable Octobia May is a story about a young African American girl who believes one of the renters, Mr. Davenport, in her Aunt’s boarding house is a vampire.  He is rarely seen during the day and he tends to lurk in the dark at night.  However, Octobia soon discovers that Mr. Davenport is hiding much more than she could have ever imagined and it’s up to her and her two friends, Jonah and Betsy, to thwart Mr. Davenport’s plans.

Yes, the story was fun but it wasn’t the light-hearted story I thought it was going to be.  Not only did it deal with the mystery surrounding Mr. Davenport, but it also took you back to the 1950’s when segregation and the fight for equal rights was at its birth.  This part of the story was told mostly through the character of Aunt Shuma as she shared her views about equality and staying true to the cause with Octobia.  I’ve read reviews from others who thought the book was preachy, but I didn’t get that feel when reading the book.  I think the author did a nice job of including information about segregation in the 1950’s and by using Aunt Shuma’s lectures to her niece, she was able to educate the reader about the struggles African Americans went through during this time period.

Getting into the book took a bit of work.  Although I was interested in the story surrounding Octobia May, I felt the writing was a bit choppy which made it hard to read and follow along. At times I was confused by the events unfolding, however, as I continued reading I found that I was drawn into Octobia’s world and I was more forgiving with the choppiness of the writing.  Part of it may have been the viewpoint we were reading through which was the perspective of a young girl around ten years of age.

I liked how this book had a lot of plot twists.  It wasn’t a simple one dimensional story about a vampire, but instead it involved a multitude of people who enhanced the story by bringing in new possibilities concerning the mystery surrounding Mr. Davenport.  Each new character introduced had a different relationship with Mr. Davenport and this kept the reader wondering what the actual mystery was.  And having the story told through Octobia May, I sometimes found myself second guessing what she reported about Mr. Davenport since kids can sometimes interpret things they’ve seen or heard differently than adults.  So this story kept you on your toes as you tried to piece the clues together.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and was happy I chose to read this book.  I would recommend Unstoppable Octobia May to any person who likes to read mystery and who appreciates a bit of educational history thrown in.  This story is appropriate for those who are 8 and over and it would also make a great family read since this book touches the topic of segregation which parents could use as a teaching tool when reading the story.

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