BOOK REVIEWS

Girl with a Camera: Margaret Bourke-White, Photographer: A Novel Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-04-11 
Review Score: 3 out of 5 star From 0 user ratings
ISBN:1629795844
LANGUAGE:English

" Margaret “Peggy” Bourke-White marched to the beat of a different drummer knew she’d be famous one day. In this historical novel, Carolyn Meyer traces Margaret’s ambitions of becoming a herpetologist. Despite a lack of encouragement by her peers and a marriage at a young age, Peggy, was instead able to become rich and famous from her work as a photographer through perseverance and a few lucky breaks. -SeanClick here to find this book in the catalog " said.

" It reads like an extended "what I did on summer vacation" report. The author makes sure to include little bits of every quarter of every year at the expense of dialog or characterization. " said.

" Sadly, I am choosing to DNF this book. I gave it a chance, but I just couldn't get into it. I wasn't crazy about the writing and I just couldn't connect to the main character. It felt like someone telling me about their life, but in a less interesting way. It felt more tell than show for me and so I decided to move on to something else. " said.

"I loved reading this. Wish there were more of Bourke-White photos in the book, but perhaps I should read a biography. Complex woman. I'm not sure how well this will sell to my middle school students but I think there is an audience.

BOOK TALK: Herpetology fascinated Margaret. She studied snakes and caterpillars and they would have become her life, but photography captured her heart. And Margaret had an eye for composing photos that almost spoke to the viewer. But the time was the early 1900s and women with any occupation other than homemaker or teacher found building a professional life almost impossible. After all who wants a woman on a construction site or in a war zone?
" said.

"This riveting story is a fictionalized account of the life of Margaret Bourke-White, successful photographer in the early 20th century. We jump into Margaret's life while she is in the 8th grade and continue through her embedded military career in 1942. Margaret pushes the envelope of expectations for women, suffers in the process, but spectacularly reaches her goal of becoming a famous, glamorous photographer who follows her passions. Margaret was not lucky in her young social life, having grown up in a no frills home under a mother who always insisted that Margaret choose the "hard way" in every endeavor. But her mother uncharacteristically provides Margaret with a camera, knowing that Margaret much appreciated her deceased father's photography hobby. Margaret's father had died during her freshmen year in college, plummeting Margaret into financial and emotional distress. She learned a lot about herself and her parents after her father's death, and it was quite a painful journey for her. Luckily, her neighbors supported her college career, her herpetology interests, and her love of photography, "....my future emerging as mysteriously as a photographic negative in the developing bath." She was a risk taker to get the best shot and to set up her own business, getting work such as photographing new architecture, the 1937 Louisville flood, and Stalin in 1941 during Germany's bombing of Moscow. My only wish is that the book contained more prints of her photographs. This is released as YA, but I've shared it with adults who found it quite stimulating." said.

"This fictionalized account of Margaret Bourke-White's life is full of interesting tidbits of history. Her choice of college is determined by which schools accept women, and which of those schools have arrangements with other colleges that allow their students to take classes at these partner schools. The choice of herpetology for her course of study went against the common expectations for women in those days, as did her later change to photography. Reading of her efforts to break into the field, the way in which she was treated as a young girl who didn't know her own mind or what she was doing, creates a frustration that is a pale reflection of what she herself must have felt.

Despite all the odds against her, Margaret did manage to become a recognized photographer. Along the way she saw and documented many important pieces of history. Her photo of the building of the Fort Peck Dam was used as the cover of the first issue of Life magazine, but also showed the New Deal at work. She captured the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, the Louisville flood, Josef Stalin, the factories of Soviet Russia, faces of the US South under Jim Crow, and World War II. The descriptions of what she had to do to be in position for those events is a testimony to determination. And that doesn't take into account the personal side of her life, which was also full of drama.

Meyer's use of material from Margaret's autobiography, some of her personal papers, and other sources has insured that the main facts are correct and that the flavor of Margaret's personality comes through clearly.

For those interested in the world during the 1920s and 30s, or in fascinating women who stand up to the pressures of society and pursue their dreams, this is a wonderful choice. Highly recommended for middle school and up.
" said.

"Margaret Bourke-White was a prominent woman photographer. She started off as a poor girl with an interest in herpetology. After discovering her true passion, photography, she struggled to make a name for herself in a time with few career options for women. Thanks to her determination, she became a world-renowned photographer. This fictionalized novel of her life gave me a view into the field of photography and how to keep on going even while facing challenges.

The most important lesson in Girl with a Camera is perseverance. Although she faced discrimination, Margaret Bourke-White kept on trying to get where she wanted to be. Her dedication might inspire people to learn more about women's rights and photography.

I wish I could've enjoyed Girl with a Camera more. I couldn't connect with the protagonist. Her decisions and attitude seemed absurd. The protagonist bought extravagant things she couldn't afford, and for the sake of what? Allowing herself to be pressured into marriages, which ended in divorce? I didn't feel there was any logical explanation to her behavior. Although what Margaret Bourke-White did isn't the author's fault, I think the author could've delved into why the protagonist would act that way. It would've sparked my imagination.

I understand the author had to condense so many years of a person’s life into a 300 page book. However, it bugged me when I read something like, "A few months later, I..." There was so much information to tell, I felt that this was a biography. I was more interested in reading the author’s notes than the story. The small font it is in will discourage many readers. I also wish there could’ve been more photographs so we could get a better sense of Margaret Bourke-White’s work.

Sadly, it was not my favorite and I wouldn't recommend it. I usually adore Carolyn Meyer's historical fiction, but Girl with a Camera disappointed me.

See my review at Reading Violet: http://librarymind.weebly.com/home/gi...
" said.

" A fictional account of this photographer's life. It follows her life closely and is an inspiring story about following your passion. I don't know if students today can appreciate how revolutionary this woman was for her time. It would pair nicely with a biography of Ms. Bourke-White. " said.

April 2018 New Book:

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