Erica Harmon's Reviews > Chime

Chime by Franny Billingsley
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Nov 01, 11

it was amazing
bookshelves: books-by-ladies
Read in October, 2011

I asked Pam to bring me some wonderful YA fiction and she brought me Chime. I read it over the course of three days on the T and obsessively all night long in my bed. Franny Billingsley is a professor at Vermont College, so Pam actually knows her, and really likes her (also she is, according to Pam, the most fashionable author she knows). The short author bio mentioned that Franny had been a lawyer, but left the field years ago to be a writer, which I thought was wonderfully romantic.

The novel was exactly the plot driven, strong-female-character-centric, coming of age story that I wanted, though it had more to offer, artistically (for lack of a better word), than my favorites from my own teenage years like Robin McKinley and Tamora Pierce. From the stream of consciousness internal dialogue, to the centrality of the talking, gurgling, squishing swamp, to the extremely self-conscious and awkward self-critique (that reminded me, heart-breakingly, of Diary of an American Teenage Girl by Phoebe Gloeckner), I was drawn into the world of Swampsea, and even more, into the broken psyche of a young woman, Briony. The prose was lyric and careful and the descriptions flowed and slunk right along like the swamp that shared center stage with the young heroine. Halloween might have been the best time to read this, too, given all the interesting spirits and creatures that inhabit this world.

My only real critique is that sometimes I got a little lost (in the swamp) and couldn't quite understand where time had slipped away to in the story. The action sometimes wasn't given the time it could have been. Even so, that confusion works with the premise of a young Briony, who has a fraught relationship with time and memory.
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