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

UPDATE TIME: 2017-09-14 
Review Score: 3 out of 5 star From 0 user ratings

" 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.

" 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.

"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:
" 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.

"Copy graciously provided by the publisher upon request

In this fictionalized novel, we meet the famous photographer Margaret Bourke-White as a young girl who is more interested in herpetology than anything else. Her mother encourages a very Spartan and stoic existence, dressing Margaret and her siblings Ruth and Roger in plain clothes, and allowing very little fun into their lives. It's not surprising that attending college at Columbia and getting away from home made Margaret very happy, and she excelled in her scientific studies even if she didn't make too many friends. When her father passed away suddenly, her mother was unable to afford to send her back, but good friends decided to fund her tuition, but felt she would have better teachers at the University of Michigan. There, Margaret makes more friends and discovers her true passion: photography. Even after a disastrous first marriage, she managed to make connections and embrace opportunities because of her striking and artistic pictures. She does quite well for herself, and is able to become a well respected photographer at a time when women were still struggling with the idea of careers. The book ends about half way through her celebrated career, during a perilous mission during World War II.
Strengths: The details of every day life during this time are absolutely exquisite. I would expect nothing less from Meyer, whose historical novels set the standards for research and authenticity, but the early part of the 1900s is underrepresented in fiction and SO interesting. My grandmother was eleven years older than Bourke-White, and the differences in their lives is just astonishing to me. While there weren't a lot of opportunities for women, there were a few, and reading about someone like Bourke-White will give young readers a renewed appreciation for the struggle women have had to excel in a variety of fields. I enjoyed this tremendously.
Weaknesses: The font is very tiny in the ARC I received, which (sadly) makes a huge difference to my readers. I also wish there were more pictures, although I completely understand why their weren't.
What I really think: This is a must purchase title for high school and public library collections, and a good historical fiction addition to middle school libraries where this genre or Meyer's works are popular.
" said.

"My second historical fiction read in a row, both with female main characters and about the same time period, early 1900's. Both are written in first person and both have a parent that dies early. One big difference is that this book is based on the life of a real person, Margaret Bourke White. She is a famous female photographer, known for her artistic pictures of America's industrialization and later pictures that capture the people caught in the great depression and WWII. The book tells the story of her entire life, unusual in a YA book. It is a slow story but extremely interesting story. Her desire to become a famous photographer fuels her decisions but gets in the way of her forming relationships, both romantic and platonic. Unlike the character in A Northern Light, as a reader you see many instances of strength but you also see what appears to be self-absorption. Keep reading before you form an opinion." 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.

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