I’m trying to remember the first time my parents let me down. I’m sure that there was some Barbie accessory that I wanted, the Dream House most definiI’m trying to remember the first time my parents let me down. I’m sure that there was some Barbie accessory that I wanted, the Dream House most definitely. But, damn, I was spoiled!!! What a freaking brat… how could anyone stand me?
Now, what about the times I let them down? The time I swallowed a penny and sat at the end of their bed staring at them until one of them woke up? The time I ‘lost’ my little sister? (She only walked to the store, like 4 blocks away, when she was 3) The time our dog Dusty had to go away because his ‘real’ parents missed him. Noope. None of those. I didn’t question their actions at all. They were my parents after all.
Now you might get the impression that I’ve got the 1970s Cleaver edition of parents. Far freakin’ from it. We were blue collar, alcoholic dad working 3 jobs, chain smoking mom working 2, deep in debt like I wouldn’t be surprised if that nice man with the briefcase was actually someone wanting to take our house away. I, of course, being so self-consumed, did not see it.
Ask me when I first realized when my parents were human and I’m there, in the moment, vivid Technicolor. It was like a tellanovella, complete with infidelity and the big ‘C’ and the absolute WORST trip to the county fair when my father told me he was moving out. Yep, bubble sufficiently burst.
Yes, Kim, TMI. T.M.I. Get on with it. Tell us why we should read this damn book. Okay, but first, I have to kind of argue that this is a ‘novel’. I mean really, it’s like under 200 pages… So, I asked Siri ‘What is a novel?’ and after giving me pictures of some anorexic, stiletto wearing, pre pubescents, (NOVEL, Siri, not MODEL) this is what dicitionary.com gave me: a fictitious prose narrative of considerable length and complexity, portraying characters and usually presenting a sequential organization of action and scenes. Um… Okay, what is considerable length (you don’t want to know what Siri replied to that). Then I got the philosophical “After all, would we really care if Michelangelo's statue of David was a foot shorter or if Rodin's Thinker was a foot taller? They would still be great works of art, no?” crap. Whatever. For the record, I see this as a novella, a fable, let’s get all fancyshmancy and use the word ‘allegory’
So, if you got this far, then now you’ll hear what I actually think of this book. I have to set the scene, I have to let you know my baseline.
This book was beautiful. Someone in book club said ‘tenderly written’; the word ‘fantastical’ was also tossed around. Some said it was scary and my reply was ‘have you read gaiman?’ Because this is what I see when I hear his name. I think of monsters, and book nerdy children, and all that complexity crap written above. I remember Door, I remember Death, I even remember Tristran (even though I wasn’t too fond of that book and thought he was Tristan throughout).
In the interview at the end of the book, one of the book clubbers mentioned that when asked about how much of this book was invention and how much was autobiographical his response was:
“Imagine a mosaic picture of a house in the country: lots of red and blue and yellow and black and brown and white and a dozen different shades of green tiles which make a beautiful picture if you stand back far enough. All the little red squares are true--true things, true places, true feelings. But the red squares aren't the picture. All the rest of it is lies and stories, often within the same sentence.”
This made me fall in love. I wouldn’t have understood this when I was little, but now, as a mother who had most definitely let down their kids and shown just how human she can be, this is the best I can do at trying to explain what it’s like. What is ‘what’, I don’t know. But, this is it.
He says “It's a book about family, it's a book about being 7 in a world of people who are bigger than you, and more dangerous, and stepping into territory that you don't entirely understand."
How many fears did we have as children (and adults)? Irrational, cockamamie, unreasonable fears? I know I had a lot, I was a timid child, timid teen, I’m sure there were many monsters that I feared that I have swallowed and hidden in the blackest corner of my soul and I bet they will emerge with dementia and/or death.
I’ve always felt that I am just pretending at this adult thing. I’ve learned, semi-recently, that I am not the only one and that floored me. I thought everyone else had it together. Well, everyone who didn’t OD or end up on a slew of SSRIs and benzos.
“Grown-ups don't look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they're big and thoughtless and they always know what they're doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. Truth is, there aren't any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.”
Again, thank you, Neil. You rock.
I don’t think that this book would really appeal to people who don’t understand that touch of magic that Gaiman can bring out in us. He takes our vulnerability and cradles it gingerly, shows us the scary and then gives us the ocean at the end of the lane and all is well, as long as you can remember the red tiles.
Remember back when you were 10 and the most important thing was a) being a world renowned hula hooper and b) marrying Davy Jones? If so… email me, we Remember back when you were 10 and the most important thing was a) being a world renowned hula hooper and b) marrying Davy Jones? If so… email me, we must be twins separated by fate.
Remember when you would rush off with your friends after school, without proper outdoor attire, no helmet as you straddle your ten speed, no cell phone with a GPS chip so your parents always know where you are… the only caution being from Officer Friendly to not talk to strangers and avoid starting forest fires? Or something like that?
Remember when being a kid meant that there were bullies that made fun of you but no one killed themselves or shot up their schools or staged a sit in about it. You just cornered them in the playground and swung your Holly Hobby tin lunchbox as hard as you could into their smug little faces?
Remember when the phrase ‘I have to take my meds’ didn’t mean anything to you?
Hazel probably doesn’t and that’s sad. It’s sad that kids can’t be kids anymore. Yes, a tired thought… I remember when we were princesses and our friends’ older brothers were evil wizards and we had to fight them off with fairy dust (sand) and how they would always end up claiming a super power and running away. We didn’t think much of video games, maybe a game of pong after dinner… But, that would be hours and hours away and we wouldn’t show up at home until way after dark and our parents weren’t organizing search parties and finding the locations of sex offenders in our neighborhood.
Hazel does try to maintain those golden moments. She has a best friend, Jack, who lives next door and he draws castles and invents arch enemies and they play super hero baseball and hand out in abandoned shacks. Hazel feels like she belongs when she’s with Jack. Belongs…. To what? To where? I guess to anyone/thing/place. Being ten and having to deal with what multiple choice questions and math problems and all that can be being 10. Especially when you are dreaming about traveling to the earth’s molten core and then the arctic and then through space and beyond.
Hazel and Jack are alike. Hazel’s dad left. Jack’s mom is depressed and is only able to maintain being a shell of what she was.
And then the story gets real. With a journey through the woods. For Jack, it’s to forget about all that’s bad. For Hazel, it’s to get her best friend back. There are witches who wear swanskins, woodsmen who leave ballet shoes for lost girls, fates who like shiny things, a birdkeeper and his bird sister, a man and woman who turn little girls into flowers so that they will not leave them. Then there is the Ice Queen. Who offers Jack a ‘palace of ice and a heart to match.’ ”Sometimes, it seems like it would be easier to give yourself to the ice.”
Hazel will not give up. “You’re Jack,” she said, putting the mirror in front of him. “Jack Campbell. Do you see?” And you are made of baseball and superheroes and castles and lots of Hazels-past, even if you lost them to the wind, it doesn’t matter.”
Hazel is my hero. I would not fit in with her in a superfast minute. ...more
I've had this touch of nostalgia lately...so, tonight I came across this book and I thought 'What the hell, why not review it and subject the GR commuI've had this touch of nostalgia lately...so, tonight I came across this book and I thought 'What the hell, why not review it and subject the GR community to my musings'--Keep in mind that it's 4:13am and I've had a shitty night.
That said, Caps for Sale was a favorite of mine when I was young. I'd hunt down all the hats in our house and try to recreate the peddler's walk during one of my mom's work parties. This was the 70s and my mom's friends were of a uh... different sort... let's just say, lots of drinking and bell bottoms and white men with afros, I'm sure hallucinogenics played some sort of role. Of course, we weren't much of a 'cap' family... I usually wore skull caps, plastic visors, big floppy straw hats, the occasional beer helmet... then I'd strut around bellowing 'caps for sale!' 'caps for sale!' Some relative or stoned out friend of the family would take pity on me and flip me a nickel and soon the whole room would be wearing my creations.
Ahh... good times.
Then, Carol, my one true college friend, (I was shy, okay?) gave me a copy. This was her favorite book, too. I hadn't read it in years and instantly the above memories came into play. Now, living through Reagan and Bush #41, I had a different take on the whole russian peddler. I took pity on this proletariat and his need to sell caps to support his family. And when no one is buying, the bastards, he's so distraught he collapses from exhaustion only to find a band of monkees (hmmm... a lousy euphemism, perhaps?) steals his caps and refuse to give them back until he admits defeat and then they mimic him and he's able to fall on his knees and collect his wares. Yeah, so I had lofty ideas back then. It was college.
Then, tonight... I'm reunited with this book, once again. Only this time I'm in the emergency room observing a 14 yr old alcoholic who's alone and in crisis and waiting for someone to help her. Not a stitch of family around, obviously in distress, and I'm listening to her read Caps for Sale for the first time. I cannot even imagine what this poor girl has seen in her short life, I can't begin to relate...I'm sure that there are no relatives willing to further her imagination on. I'm sure she's not imagining a whole alter reality for this capsman and his band of monkees. She's looking at me as the sheriff places her in ankle chains and tosses the book aside on his way out.
Yeah, not your typical review, but just a thought on how one book can mean so much and so little to two very different girls. It's almost daybreak, I'm going to sleep now. I pray that I don't dream about monkeys. ...more
**spoiler alert** So... Warriors. No, not that awesome 80's flick starring that guy from Xanadu. Unfortunately.
Warriors, Into the Wild is Book 1 of**spoiler alert** So... Warriors. No, not that awesome 80's flick starring that guy from Xanadu. Unfortunately.
Warriors, Into the Wild is Book 1 of 6 (SIX!!) in the first of like---- a zillion series. My 10 yr old daughter is in love with these books---she can devour one a day (and the way that they are churned out....) She is so into these that she asked my husband and I to give them a shot. Fine, I can take one for the team, I mean, heck, she's reading, right?
Thing is, it's not so bad. You've got a li'l bit of Tolkien and a splash of Shakespearean tragedy in a Jets vs. Sharks sorta way... It makes for a lively story.
Here's my issue...
So, you have the kittpet, Rusty, longing to pounce on mice and rabbits, tearing into their cold, fuzzy, flesh--he meets Graypaw and is introduced to Thunderclan and meets Lionheart and Tigerclawand Dustpaw and Sandpaw and they take him in and he becomes Firepaw and apprentices with Bluestar but Tigerclaw has this chip on his shoulder and doesn't like him and he runs into Yellowfang and falls for Spottedleaf, then has to save the honor or Ravenpaw who watched Redtail be killed by Oakheart, but it wasn't Oakheart it was Tigerclaw and meanwhile you have Shadowclan, which is Yellowfang's old gang and they're led by Brokenspear who has daddy issues and offs Raggedstar and sends Clawface to capture Frostfur's kits so there's this A-Team like maneuver to invade Shadowclan that Whitestorm leads and then Graypaw becomes Graystripe and Firepaw who was Rusty now becomes Fireheart...
‘Oh great,’ you’re thinking, ‘another witty endeavor where a Goodreader reflects back on a childhood favorite. Oh joy.'
Well, suck it up and deal.
A-hem ‘Oh great,’ you’re thinking, ‘another witty endeavor where a Goodreader reflects back on a childhood favorite. Oh joy.'
Well, suck it up and deal.
A-hem… While rifling through the book section at my local Goodwill; I came across this little gem. Copyright 1980, Little Golden Books® edition complete with all our favorite characters outlining the back cover… The Tawny Scrawny Lion, Tootle, The Poky Little Puppy… that famous gold-foil binding (seriously, it says so… right on the back!) A little girl even signed her name! Natalia (you just know she had one of those stage moms cramming her Airabesques down her throat before a Nutcracker performance... you can just see it...)
Anyway… I grabbed this treasure and let out a little yip of delight. God, I LOVED this book! And what a cool edition! So, I paid my 99 cents and skittered on home to *share* with my kids. Bonding! Instant Memories! Up your a**, Norman Rockwell!
Clearly, my children have been brainwashed by sponges named Bob and Hedgehogs wearing gloves and little pokey-things. But, I didn’t give up… I found the correct remote(s), shut down all things electronic, sat them down in a semi circle at my feet---and with a relish unbeknownst to even myself--- read them this mutha-f**king classic!
“So? Huh? Whaddya think? Huh? Well?’
Emily (15): What’s wrong with you?
Marley (11): That was weird.
Isabel (9): I LOVED it! It was AWESOME!
Satchel (5): Can I play the Wii now?
Disenchantment. Exasperation. Fail.
I reread the book again. I could taste the trust...the anticipation as we defy Grover and turn the page, the tickling blue fur and purple spongy nose that I fell in love with... I could feel it all.
Then I read it again.
Okay, why is this so endearing to me? I scanned my memory banks… did Mom or Dad read this to me? Hell no.. they never read to me… Was it a beloved teacher? My very own Montambo? Gah… no…. where the hell did I first read this? Was it when I was older and thought it would make me cool to revisit my youthful Sesame Street Days? Could be… sounds a bit cliché for me, but okay…
Then I read it again….
This book is freaking mental. I mean throughout the whole book you’re being told that you shouldn’t turn the page because there’s a freaking monster at the end of it. Why do you keep turning the damn page? Is it the font? Is it the colorful print? Is it all the attempts that Grover makes to NOT make you turn the page? Rope and wood and bricks and nails and… Why didn’t this book scare the hell out of me? I’m a nervous Nellie by nature. Why didn’t I throw this book in the basement with the crickets and the Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass albums?
Okay, I get it… it’s supposed to teach kids to not judge and to not be afraid and to take a chance. Okay… but after a lifetime of disappointments and negative illuminations… this book leads to an anxiety attack. No double rainbows today.