Cornmaven's Reviews > The Freak Observer

The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston
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's review
Apr 19, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: high-school
Read in April, 2011

** spoiler alert ** There's a lot about this book that I liked, but much of it was a bit obscure for me. The chaotic journey through PTSD that Loa experiences as a result of much, much tragedy in her life was understandable. Her whole family seemed to be spinning out of control, at least to her. Her somewhat casual hooking up with her debate partner rang true for the circumstance. And I really liked the way the author allowed her to come to the understanding at the end that her reactions to the events in her life were coloring EVERYTHING with which she came in contact.

But there was a lot I didn't get - I couldn't appreciate the math/physics problems at the beginnings of a lot of the chapters because I never took a physics class - so even whether those problems were real or not was lost on me. I knew that those beginning snippets, whether a problem or a famous statement, were germaine to the chapter, but many times I couldn't make the connection. I appreciated the metaphor of the orrery in relation to her sister Asta. But, I did not get the purpose of Jack in the story, other than maybe his chaos was actually grounding Loa, or his total acceptance of her was helping her come to grips with her trauma. Maybe. I don't know.

Even with Loa's extra credit project on the Freak Observer/Boltzmann Brain, I didn't get that at all. Even after reading about Boltzmann and his theories on the net, I didn't get it. Would many young adults get it? I don't know. I did find out that Boltzmann was most likely bipolar, so that was interesting.

But I don't agree that Corey's posting of a photo with her in it on the net was anything approaching simple self-absorption. It was just sheer stupid, teenage immaturity.

In the end, I thought the story was a good one, but the larger than life metaphors and symbols obscured the lessons a little too much. Even Wallace Stevens' poem, and I love Wallace Stevens, was a little too much for me in this tale. Maybe the author didn't spend enough time on it for me. Probably someone smarter than I would need to explain it to me.


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