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Review of the Journals of Zacharia 1905 - 1985

  • Mon, August 07, 2023 11:51 AM
    Message # 13237582

    Title: The Journals of Zacharia 1905-1985

    Author: Jerry Ziemer

    Reviewed by: Gloria Johntel

    Published: January 19, 2023

    Publisher: Black Rose Writing

    Length: 253 Pages

    4/5 stars

    The Journals of Zacharia is a book told through journals and letters of the life of Zacharia Zabrinksi, the illegitimate son of a sea captain and a girl from Copper Harbor, a tiny town on the northernmost tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Zacharia has a pretty honest way of looking at life despite the deception that shrouds his first eighteen years, and he is self-aware about the important things, making his story easy to follow and realistic. His story touches on a number of life aspects that are important and relevant to people all over—family, finding purpose, making the most out of bad situations, friendship, and love. 

    This was a highly enjoyable novel to read, from both a story-perspective and in the way it was formatted into journal snippets. As the journal spans eight decades, many things change. Instead of being resistant to that change, however, we see how Zacharia learns to carry himself through the changing times with his curious nature and support system of friends and relations. Each character takes on a life of their own through Zacharia’s eyes, and reading about his joys and pitfalls was a very human adventure. 

    Ziemer’s attention to historical detail throughout the story, from the first Oldsmobile Zacharia drives to the last, is pretty fascinating. Considering how long Zacharia’s life is, we get to see how the world changes in New York, France, and Copper Harbor, and along with that, we get to see how Zacharia’s views change and how he grows (or doesn’t grow) as a person with each new situation. 

    The novel is written in journal and letter form, so there are gaps—sometimes of several years— and each entry is a new story. This format makes the book easier to read, and the type of thing you can pick up and put down if you only have a couple of minutes to read.

    The speech patterns were also an interesting point in this novel, and especially since it is written as a journal, these things are very nuanced. We see some misspellings and wrong words used, but in keeping with his character, it feels very normal—nobody is a perfect speller all the time. These things added to the characterization of Zacharia. Because it is written as a journal which Zacharia is only mostly faithful to, it skips over slow points in his life, which leaves us with gaps that Zacharia fills in where it’s important or pertinent to the rest of Zacharia’s story. Adventure and travel to different places are very big themes here as Zacharia is a wanderer at heart.

    The religious aspects of this story are also pretty good. While Zacharia maintains his faith in God, he doesn’t shout it zealously from the rooftops. His relationship with God is simply made to be a part of him and something that supports him through tough situations. That said, it is an aspect of the story that I think the author could have even added a little more to.

    Overall, The Journals of Zacharia is a fun and interesting read and is filled with a lot of little adventures and very realistic reactions to major life events. I think the pacing is very consistent, and the ending is satisfactory and not wholly unexpected.

    Reviewer Bio: Gloria Johntel is an avid writer and reader. She enjoys working at her local library as a Library Assistant, and she enjoys reading (and writing) historical romance. When she is not reading or writing, she enjoys gardening, watching anime, and taking walks on the local riverwalk along the Wisconsin River.

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