Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Bonnie and Clyde by Karen Blumenthal


Bonnie and Clyde: The Making of a Legend by Karen Blumenthal
Release Date - August 1, 2018
Publisher Website - Penguin Random House 
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 256 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**obtained at Book Expo America**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Bonnie and Clyde may be the most notorious--and celebrated--outlaw couple America has ever known. This is the true story of how they got that way.

Bonnie and Clyde: we've been on a first name basis with them for almost a hundred years. Immortalized in movies, songs, and pop culture references, they are remembered mostly for their storied romance and tragic deaths. But what was life really like for Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker in the early 1930s? How did two dirt-poor teens from west Texas morph from vicious outlaws to legendary couple? And why? 

A book that is telling a well known story has to ask itself what it is bringing that is new. I've read quite a few books about Bonnie and Clyde both fiction and non fiction and the ones that stand out are the ones that manage to make the tale their own. Karen Blumenthal's Bonnie and Clyde does not add anything new to their story but still manages to be a worthy read.

This novel shines as a condensed overview of who Bonnie and Clyde were. It gives a broad enough overview to ensure the reader has an overall understanding of the big events in their lives but doesn't go much deeper than that. Those looking for a deep dive filled with little details will not find that within these pages. It is, therefore, especially perfect for younger teen readers who may just be beginning to find out about the duo. It works best as an introduction and jumping off point.

Karen Blumenthal presents just the facts in a straightforward manner. There is very little personal reflection or feelings that make their way into the book. We certainly get an indication of horror at some of the crimes committed by the pair but not much beyond that. This book also doesn't glamourize their life, particularly when they are on the road. Many times their time on the run is romanticized when it was in fact pretty horrible and horrific.

The people who went along for the ride with Bonnie and Clyde (in particular Clyde's brother and his wife) are only given a brief mentions in this. The accomplice (and his family) who assist with the downfall of the famous couple is also just lightly touched upon. I understand why, as this is the story of Bonnie and Clyde, but these people are important to telling their story and I feel need to be fleshed out just a little bit more.

The inclusion of little facts that expand upon details given in the novel are a highlight and one that makes this book well worth the read. You get a spotlight of many of their victims in a way that other novels don't often take the time to do. The care taken with the victims is one of the standout elements of the story and one that elevates this book in my opinion. It allows the loss of those lives to hit a little harder and makes their crime spree feel a little more gritty than most Hollywoodized versions.

I highly recommend this one for people who do not know a lot about Bonnie and Clyde. It's a great way to get the basics but should be used as just a starting point. It's well researched enough but doesn't quite hold, or capture, why this pair has fascinated people for so long after their deaths.

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