i have to put this aside for a little even though i'm close to the end because it's messing with my mind. quite apart from that, i'm liking it but not...morei have to put this aside for a little even though i'm close to the end because it's messing with my mind. quite apart from that, i'm liking it but not loving it. some sort of magical realism that seems to creep into the sections with the detective and the mother (and in the intersections between these sections and the lowboy sections) seems to me unconvincing. maybe it's just bad synchronicity. maybe it's a mystery that will be explained later. still, i find it irritating. i'm keeping track of all the incongruities and feeling thrown by them. unless, as i said, there is a grand explanation at the end that makes sense of it all. but then i'll be annoyed to have had to wait so long with so little guidance and so little incentive to find the key.
likewise, i find the writing a bit cold. i don't know how to characterize it otherwise. it's as if wray wanted to give us a sense of the inner life of these people but managed only to describe it from the outside. maybe too many words?
lowboy the character, on the other hand, is immensely captivating. i want to meet him and ride the train with him.(less)
ETA 2: this is what i want to say about this book and my review after all. it reminded me of john green's The Fault in Our Stars: cute and simple, mea...moreETA 2: this is what i want to say about this book and my review after all. it reminded me of john green's The Fault in Our Stars: cute and simple, meant to exploit feelings and tragedy (cancer there, AIDS here) rather than to explore them, which is what books should do. there is so much wealth of material just in the relation between mom and dad and the two girls, and of june and greta with each other. but there is no serious exploration going on. nor is there much exploration of the love of finn and toby, or even finn and june, even though that is the heart and soul of the book. why do all these people love each other? why is greta so angry? (glimpses of that). what's the matter with june's and greta's parents' just not noticing that their kids are going to the wolves? i also want to delete all that i said originally and that appears below, but i'll be respectful of history and leave it, highlights and all.
ETA: i finished this after all. well, almost. i stopped some 30 pages to the end. i have more to say. i hope i get to say it. ***
i read about 100 pages of this book, which everyone justly loves, and i regret to say that we need to part ways. the book has done nothing but good to me, but i have discovered a fact in myself that is so new, so startling, it's just about knocking my socks off: if i read books about kids, those kids have to be boys. i can't think of a single book with a girl protagonist that worked magic for me the way so many boy-protagonist books did and do.
last night, as i was reading, i pretended that the protagonist was a boy and my response to the book changed. yikes.
i should have known this. i don't seek out books with girl protagonists unless they are queer books, and then i don't really like them anyway and leave them half-way unread.
but i learned this only after i realized that i wasn't liking this book as much as i would have if the protagonist had been a boy. (how many entirely obvious things do we do that we don't know we do?)
this is startling to me because i mostly read book by and about women, and don't much like books about men. but childhood -- well, i've written before here on GR how my childhood was that of a boy-girl, and i suppose that identification has stuck, and is operating deeply, and probably will forever.
this also sheds some light for me on what's at work when we like or dislike books. people on GR remark on the beautiful writing of this book and i'm puzzled, because i can't see it.
i'm fascinated by the libidinal response each of us has to books and works of art in general, and by what shapes and overdetermines taste. even educated people, voracious, discerning readers -- we are led by our noses, by our guts, by our history. which brings me to the crucial point of "the canon." how different would the canon be if the cultural group that determines it were different? it would be unrecognizable. because, of course, beyond subjective libidinal responses there are the libidinal responses of groups, influenced by what members of that group have been told since they joined the group (willingly or unwillingly, wittingly or unwittingly) they should like. and it's fascinating indeed to see how the switching of group identity can dramatically alter libidinal responses. i am thinking of someone who comes to identify as gay, of class changes, etc.
so, take care june. you are a great kid. i wish you well. (less)
this is just about as good a novel about being a sad kid in australia as i have read, and if you think i'm being facetious i'll tell you that i've rea...morethis is just about as good a novel about being a sad kid in australia as i have read, and if you think i'm being facetious i'll tell you that i've read another australian novel about a sad kid and it didn't even compare to this one, quality-wise (i didn't finish that one either). problem is, i don't like YA novels. i just don't. i want my writers to talk to me as an adult. i want difficult words that express difficult ideas in difficult turns of phrases. i want hard and edgy. i want complex in that adult way of being complex that involves jobs, getting older, and losses different from the (terrible) losses of kids.
also, the whole love thing, i don't know, maybe it didn't work that way for me, but i just can't feel it. boys looking at you sideways; boys walking you to class; boys giving you rides home... i didn't do any of that. i didn't even do it with girls, if you see what i mean. that whole game happened while i was thinking about other things. what other things was i thinking about? i studied like a dog, i fought with my sisters, i fought with my parents, i fought with my relatives, i fought with my teachers, i fought with just about everyone. i rode my bicycle fast through one of the most beautiful cities in the world. i worried about grades. sometimes i met with my classmates and studied. sometimes i went to parties with my classmates but i found them boring and felt like i didn't belong so i left. i hung out with the kids in the parish. i fought with the priests and the counselors and every adult in sight. i wish there were a book about me, but not a YA book. when you think about these things from the future of adulthood, they feel different, you know? the sense of loss is both magnified and diminished. kids are capable of tremendous despair, but adults, well, we're a bit more jaded, and we're afraid of death, and we are really afraid of injuries we didn't even know existed when we were kids, and all of this tinges our memories in a special and unique way. there's all this history that took place, and even though in some ways our adolescence feels to us as intact as it was then, it isn't. it's different, and i wish i could think of a writer who captures its misery through the eyes of adulthood. maybe sylvia plath in The Bell Jar?
but then the true crazy thing is that YA writers are adults, and this messes me up entirely. in fact, most YA readers are adults. what gives? what gives? if you have made it this far, please explain it to me.
you know when people say, "i'm not a prude, but..."? well, that's me, now. clearly, what these people are saying is that they are, indeed, prudes (and...moreyou know when people say, "i'm not a prude, but..."? well, that's me, now. clearly, what these people are saying is that they are, indeed, prudes (and therefore so am i). so okay, maybe i'm a prude, but this is too much for me right now. got to page 89, realized there is no way i'll assign this for class (not because of the too-much-sex but because of a frankly disturbing scene of sexual molestation -- not into triggering students!), am considering returning to this one day when i feel more into girl-on-girl sex and less into thinking about love and the way we tease out our sexuality to wrap it around our desire and love for others. but if you are in for a joyride, this is definitely your book, baby! (less)