Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Pran of Albania

Pran of Albania by Elizabeth Cleveland Miller is a book you will have to track down; I suggest starting at your local library.

The Blurb

1930 Newbery Honor Book

Pran is a daughter of the sturdy mountain tribes of Albania - old enough to be betrothed in accordance with the ancient tribal traditions. 
This is the story of Pran and her life in the mountains and the refugee barracks at Skodra; of her friend, the laughing blue-eyed Nush and his secret; of her adventures in war times and peace, of her betrothal and the strange vow she takes.

My Review
Pran Of Albania by Elizabeth Cleveland Miller
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
I didn't care much for this 1930 Newbery Honor Book.

The story reinforces the idea that women are subservient to men and is built on the notion that girls exist to serve their fathers before growing into women who exist to serve their husbands. The only way these women could free themselves from this system is through religion - the Christian religion, of course. There's no mention of how much Christianity influenced and reinforced this ideal. Albania's pagan history might as well not exist.

And the only way that women could free themselves from this "social" system was through dedication to God; in exchange, the church legally declared these women to be "men" (but who were, in actuality, nuns afforded the legal rights of men).

Now, I'm not a fan of organized religion and I disliked seeing religion portrayed as liberating when, in fact, it helped to oppress women's rights for centuries. But this story fails to mention that. Religion is just another system of servitude that kept independent women from reproducing/passing on their independence, thus ensuring that this system of male domination remains firmly in place. This book almost makes light of that fact. The ending of this book reinforces the idea that Pran's attempt at independence is what star-crossed her love/life (as if women aren't capable of making good decisions). If Pran had just done as her father directed... everything would have worked out at the end. Bleh! 
The story is slow and dull, filled with a lot of rural farm descriptions. While the book is reported to be thoroughly researched, I didn't come away with a clear concept of the Albania tribes and I don't feel like I learned much about Albanian history, not without extra-curricular research. This book told me that several tribes were allied together against several other tribes and these tribes fought over land and food. There's very little information about the situation or how much influence the church had on these wars (unregulated and unfair church taxes -tithes- go unmentioned). I expect historical-fiction to give me more history than this book provides; instead, this feels like the church's version of history - which I don't care for because I know the church lies (Doctrine of Discovery).

The only use I could find for this book is that the story illustrates how the world used to be and why it is important to keep moving forward with equal rights in a secular nation - but that's only if parents/teachers/mentors are willing to track down extra-curricular non-fiction reading materials to provide all the details that this book leaves out. 

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