Beth's Reviews > Something Rising

Something Rising by Haven Kimmel
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Feb 02, 2008

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bookshelves: literary_fiction
Read in March, 2008

While I liked some aspects of this story and in some way could be swept along with the plot, it disturbs me that the author sets up so many dichotomies with her characters, basically along gender lines: bad man (father who gambles and abandons family) versus saintly man (family friend who's always there and never seems to get angry or make a mistake); rebellious young woman (daughter who makes a living playing pool) versus "good daughter/girl/female" archetype (at an extreme--the rebellious woman's sister is a creative genius cum agoraphobic who eventually can't leave her house). What ultimately really bugged me, considering that Kimmel appears otherwise to be a progressive feminist who wants to give her female characters depth and agency, is that the "happy ending" of the book consists of the two daughters being essentially rescued by men. One could argue that the rebellious woman at least shows some active agency, not passive acceptance of a marriage proposal like her sister, but she still ends up needing a man to be her reason to change her life and get out of the semi-dangerous rut she seems to be living in. The friends in her life are also odd characters who don't go anywhere literally and figuratively--they seem to be merely foils or warnings to the main character. I think the author could have done more with them or not bothered to have them in the story at all. Her latest novel, by contrast, at least showed how people could create community without relying on old stereotypes of women needing to be rescued by men, etc.
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