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ARC Review: The Divorce Colony

The Divorce Colony: How Women Revolutionized Marriage and Found Freedom on the American Frontier by April White April White’s The Divorce Colony is set during the Gilded Age, in the America of the late 1800s. It revolves around the lax divorce rules then to be found in South Dakota.  Today, getting divorced is almost easier than getting married. But in the Gilded Age, divorces were not so easy to obtain. Divorce was viewed as a moral concern for the state, and was denounced from the pulpit for threatening the sanctity of marriage. Even President Theodore Roosevelt spoke out against it.  Laws around divorce tended to be most lax on the frontiers of the United States. By the 1880s the territory of Dakota gained the dubious honor of posting the largest rise in divorces in the country. At the turn of the century one city - Sioux Falls, South Dakota - gained a reputation for having the laxest divorce laws of all, and required only a three month residency in order to take advantage of them

Review: The Sprawl: Reconsidering the Weird American Suburbs

The Sprawl: Reconsidering the Weird American Suburbs
by Jason Diamond

The Sprawl is a mix of history, memoir and pop culture commentary on American Suburbia. It's a book that attempts a lot and succeeds only partially. All three approaches get their due - with a chapter on the history of suburbs, an excellent chapter on the music that has come out of the suburbs (as well as discussions about the movies made about them), and a lot of writing sprinkled throughout relating author Jason Diamond's own suburban youth.

Diamond is a Gen X author who grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. It's clear he has a place in his heart for "the suburbs" and he's done quite a bit of research to put this book together. It's an interesting enough read. As someone who spent three decades in the Chicago suburbs myself, I found Diamond's take on the individual Chicago suburbs to be quite interesting.

Unfortunately, there is more breadth than depth to this book and overall it doesn't really seem to go anywhere or to have any point of view to convey. This is evident in the last chapter as Diamond struggles with the question of whether he'd ever return to living in the suburbs (he currently lives in Brooklyn), and ultimately gives what I took as a half hearted cop out of an answer.

I rate The Sprawl 3 Stars ⭐⭐⭐ - I liked portions of this book. If you are a Gen Xer who grew up in the American suburbs you'll no doubt find things to like about this book too.

The Sprawl links

Borrow it: Find out if your library has the ebook or audiobook available
Buy it New:  Buy this book new on AmazonBarnes & Noble or  Books-A-Million 
Buy it Used: Buy this book used on AbeBooksPowells or ThriftBooks 
Support Indie Bookstores:  Buy this book directly from Bookshop.org or find an Independent Bookstore near you.