Really, really, really great. Funny and harsh and tender and sad and beautiful and I am having a hard time believing that a better YA book came out la...moreReally, really, really great. Funny and harsh and tender and sad and beautiful and I am having a hard time believing that a better YA book came out last year (Ship Breaker is up next, so we'll see...). I want to put this in the hands of pretty much everyone I know.
Ken Dietz's "Face Your Shit" flowchart now hangs in my cubicle. Where was that advice ten years ago?(less)
**spoiler alert** UGH. I never had any intention of reading this book until Bitch Magazine posted a list of Feminist YA books on their website this we...more**spoiler alert** UGH. I never had any intention of reading this book until Bitch Magazine posted a list of Feminist YA books on their website this weekend and, much to my surprise, this was on it. I questioned its place on the list, a staffer said they'd look into it, and I second guessed myself. Turns out I was right the first time: this isn't feminist at all. What's more, I'd say that this is the literary equivalent of torture porn, except worse than anything you'll actually ever see on the big screen; this book has no redeeming social value whatsoever.
(Edited a week later to add some thoughts I've better developed since discussing with librarian buddies who both love and hate this book.)
I can't deny that this book will appeal to horror-hungry teens, and as a librarian I have to give it credit for that. But frankly, it is ONLY as a genre horror novel that I can give it credit. Same way I don't want to watch Hostel, I don't want to read books like this. Clearly some people do, so however much I personally might have hated the experience of reading it, I can accept that this is a different strokes kind of thing. But I have a real problem with this book being marketed as anything other than horror. It SHOCKS me that anyone could call this a feminist work.
Does it make sense to say that the bleakness of this book makes it pointless? I just wonder, what does a teen reader, or any reader, have to hold onto at the end? Kyla is already apparently damaged beyond repair when the book begins, completely broken and tragic, but well on her way to monstrous, too: using her own sexuality to control others who she perceives as being weak; viciously mean when she has the opportunity to be; positively gleeful over the thought of freeing herself at the cost of another girl's freedom. It seems to me that with the ending she gives us, Scott lazily skirts around the possibility of recovery, of any possible empowerment or justice. And I'm not someone who thinks every book should have a happy (or even optimistic) ending, I just think that THIS book becomes pointless without one. There's no story here -- this is a completely bleak and voyeuristic snapshot of horrific abuse and NOTHING ELSE, merely something you tell little girls to scare them into submission. I think, in the end, a reader has nothing to gain from this book except for a good scare (which it certainly delivers), and I think that does discredit it, pretty much entirely, as a piece of serious literary fiction.
I will say that I thought Scott's writing was much, much better here than in the very boring and awkward Perfect You (except for the dialog, which this author cannot write at all).
But all in all I was happier person before I read this, and the world was probably a better place before it was written. Yuck. A million yucks. I want a shower.
For a better, smarter captor/captive book, try Room. For a better, smarter abuse book, try Push. (less)
Well... add me to the list of people who thought this was disappointing next to As Meat Loves Salt, but who nonetheless count it as a fine read. Metic...moreWell... add me to the list of people who thought this was disappointing next to As Meat Loves Salt, but who nonetheless count it as a fine read. Meticulous plotting and painstaking characterization. And McCann writes so beautifully. Even if this book weren't rich and dark and twisted and utterly believable all the way to the end, it would be worth reading.
"The world is full of these goassamer threads ... tying the present to the past; once perceived, they breed and multiply in the mind.
"No matter where they lead us, we have need of them. That what once existed is lost utterly, that time's river can never return to its source, is a thought more terrible than any act that is recorded here. So I choose to believe in such traces, of which I am one - the record of a certain act committed upon a certain day - and every man and woman on earth another.
"I could wish that Robin had written to me, as well as to my father. Then I might trace back the trail of ink to his first mark upon the paper and see it as a thread stretching between his breathing, blooming time, long gone, and mine, which is now.
Got this one through inter-library loan and was very, very sorry to have to let it go today.
I (morbidly) loved everything about it except for Lesy's...moreGot this one through inter-library loan and was very, very sorry to have to let it go today.
I (morbidly) loved everything about it except for Lesy's opening and closing essays, which are sometimes poetic, but more often cringe-inducing. Fortunately, they are also short, and the end result of this compilation of photographs and newspaper clippings from late 1800s Wisconsin newspapers is fantastically weird and totally absorbing.
Like many reviewers, I read this because it was mentioned in the notes in Goolrick's A Reliable Wife, a book I did not actually enjoy, but nonetheless could not stop reading. "Such things happened?" Apparently so... diphtheria, arson, murder, and madness abound in WDT. The suicides are what really got me, though.
"Mrs. Phillip Fredericks, aged 82 years, who was partly insane, threw herself in her neighbor's cistern at Beloit and was drowned. She had long planned death in this manner."
"Henry Johnson, an old bachelor of Grand Dyke, cut off the heads of all of his hens recently, made a bonfire of his best clothes, and killed himself with arsenic."
"The 80 year old mother of an imprisoned man threw herself in front of a train and was cut into 3 pieces. She was crazed by the disgrace."
"James Price, aged about 60 years, committed suicide at Omro by taking paris green and morphine. All attempts to save him he resisted. Despondency was the cause of the act. He fell last spring and broke the patella of his right knee and has been unable to work since. He leaves a wife and one daughter."
"Working men at Kenosha found the body of a man hanging from a rafter. The body was badly decomposed. Nothing was found to identify it."
"Gottlied Wagner, an old farmer living near Montello, set fire to all his farm buildings and then threw himself into the flames. All his grain and farm implements were destroyed... The cause of the act was supposed to have been a divorce procured by his wife. He destroyed the property to prevent it falling into her hands. Wagner kissed the children goodbye, gave each some money, and sent them to school. His wife left him a week before.
"Ludwig Senglaub, a German resident of Manitowoc, aged 74, committed suicide Friday morning at the home of William Radins. The old man had become enamored of Mrs. Radins and had been a frequent visitor at the house. She told him not to come any more. He went to the house, however, walked into the front room, and deliberately shot himself while looking into a mirror."
"Mary Karban, wife of Wenzel Karban, a farmer of the town of Neva, committed suicide by eating the heads of 4 boxes of matches. She was only 16 years of age and had been married last fall."
Mrs. Reuben C. Bartlett, an elderly woman living near the western limits of Eau Claire, partly filled a washtub with kerosene, partially disrobed, and poured kerosene over her head and set fire to it. She died in a horrible agony before help reached her. She was undoubtedly insane... She leaves several adult sons and daughters and a husband."
"Abraham Zweekbaum of the town of Holland committed suicide by battering himself on the head with a hammer... He attempted to take his life a few days ago by cutting his head from his body with a sharp instrument, but was prevented from doing so."
"Elsie Whitsan, 4 years old, child of Henry Whitsan, died at Neenah of grief... Her mother died a few days before and from then until her death the child cried without stopping. Physicians say that death was caused by a broken heart."
Also watched the film adaptation last night, and it is a beautiful, delicate treatment of the subject -- highly recommended. (less)