Sunday, January 14, 2007

Saturday Six-Pack

A rare Saturday off. Lousy weather. A good day to stay in bed and read. And so I did.

How is this world even possible. I believe it completely, but want to refute it with every pore of my being. Lakshmi's story is nothing short of the ultimate description of hell. After finishing the novel, I kept thinking about my life at the age of twelve. Impossible, unfeeling world that could allow life to be this horrific for such young girls. I do have a couple of couple of issues, though -- MUST the lowlife that begins this nightmare for Lakshmi be her STEPFATHER? It feels so stereotypical - with the staggering numbers of young women sold into this life, there must be blood relatives involved as well. Also, I was interested and surprised that overall, the men who availed themselves of the girls' services did not seem to be particularly demonized. (That special blame was given to the madam of the brothel - yet without the sick appetite needing to be fed, the madam would be out of business.) I would like to have seen some mention of the "customer's" reprehensible part in the situation. A terrifying, potentially galvanizing book - but definitely to be aimed at an older reading audience.

Oh, golly. I like the writing. I appreciate the struggle. I get the "how can I make a life for myself without feeling that I am disappointing my family and abandoning my differently-abled sibling" plot line (A Fine White Scar anyone?) I found the mini-plots of the old boyfriend who was also a scam artist and the back story of the new boyfriend's disfigured childhood interesting. I was not so crazy about about the intermingled chapters told from the sister's point of view. I actually just wanted, just this once, for Mina to GO with Ysrael to San Francisco and find herself and her own dreams. I was really hoping that she would -- but of course, that would be a different book. Maybe the next novel I read with this plot line will surprise me by breaking with convention and allowing the trapped butterfly to go free.

I know there's been some controversy about this book. People seem to either love it or hate it. I am middle of the road on it myself. It's a story with a moral compass that never wavers (through drowning and head shattering and everything else) and despite it's MANY travails, comes to a glorious technicolor Kodak kind of happy ending. The writing is good and the illustrations are lovely. It has a sort of "Ebenezer Scrooge: This Is Your Life" quality to it and that's fine, too. I was not taken by it as I was by Despereaux -- that was a unique and unmatched tale of love I will always remember reading and had to buy for my own bookshelf. Edward's story was one I am glad to have finally read, but one that will go back to the library shelf to await another reader.

With a cool title and a neat bit of cover art (no odd-piece-of-a-teen cover, yay!) this little book packs a big punch. Much like the topics and characters in So B. It, Weeks gives us the broken family of young Jamie Reardon who have come to live with his brain-damaged aunt in hopes of helping her heal, while also healing themselves. In a neat plot juxtaposition, Jamie wants more than anything to help his Aunt Sapphy regain her memories, but would love nothing more than to forget some of his own. An intriguing cast of extras, a couple of dark secrets, and a very poignant ending make this a very satisfying novel indeed.

e. lockhart. I have seen your cummingesque byline on a number of novels and in shuffling through the Big Ol' Stack of Fifty on my floor this weekend, discovered I had two of your titles on the docket. The Boy Book was another girl on the outs with all her old friends and her old boyfriend books -- lots of drama, lots of journaling and notes, lots of shifting and secrets and posturing and oh, yes, visits with her shrink. I read it all the way through, but it was a struggle. Maybe I was not in the right frame of mind? I'll give it the benefit of that doubt, at least.

Fly On the Wall gave me another "On-the-Ouside-Looking-In, I think I am a Misfit" teen gal to meet. Gretchen's story seemed more focused and immediate to me and was more engaging as a result. But when she has her Kafka moment and becomes an actual fly on the wall in the boys' locker room -- the book gets into some pretty graphic and interesting territory -- namely the territory usually hidden in the confines of boxer briefs. To her credit, lockhart does manage to balance the soft-core voyeurism with a sense of what else the guys are hiding about their own personalities and insecurities - which certainly makes the center portion of the novel the most interesting. Gretchen's growth in terms of opening her heart and mind to her family and friends - and most importantly herself - makes this the better of the two e. books from my Saturday read-in.

I feel some renewals in my future -- still have about 34 books to go! (And that's if none of my
on-request books come in this week!)

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