Saturday, May 30, 2009

Filling in the Gaps

Today's reviews have very little in common, except these two points:

1. They are both awesome
2. They are both on my "Fill in the Gaps" list.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle Shirley Jackson

Merricat said Constance, would you like a cup of tea?

I always knew that I was missing something with all of Lemony Snicket's references to the Sugar Bowl. Here is is.

Fantastically wonderful and creepy, this is a character study into Mary Katherine Blackwood (not a reliable narrator) who, along with her sister and uncle, survived when someone in the family put arsenic and sugar bowl at dinner several years ago. Merricat had been sent to bed without dinner and Constance didn't take sugar on her blackberries. Uncle Julian also survived, but was now confined to a wheelchair and developed some mental issues as a result of the poisoning.

The Blackwoods live locked away in their house, hiding from the prying eyes of the townfolk who hate them. (Even though we get the sense the town was never fond of the family, living up on the hill with all their money and the murder that Constance was cleared of only adds fuel to that fire.)

Then their cousin shows up, trying to gain the Blackwood fortune, something the reader sees but poor Constance does not.

This is not a plot driven novel. The ending revelation was not a surprise, nor was it meant to be. This is rather the story of one messed up mind and how she sees the world. Part of the fun is discerning how much is real and how much is in her head.

I highly recommend.

Speak Laurie Halse Anderson

HA! I finally read it!

Something happened to Melinda at the end-of-summer party and she called the cops. Now, everyone in her high school hates her. Melinda is fracturing as she fails classes (except art) and stops speaking.

I was worried about this because I *knew* what had happened at the party. I've known for awhile. I was worried that I wouldn't enjoy the book because the "big reveal" was ruined. So not true. I think even if you didn't know, Anderson has enough clues in the text that the reveal won't be a surprise.

I was also worried because Anderson and especially this book, get praised to the rafters on a regular basis. I've read Twisted by her and while I liked it, it didn't blow me away by any means.

This did.

Melinda's voice, the short paragraphs, how she sees the world, the style of occasionally putting conversation in script form sucked me in. It was everything I had hoped it could be, plus some.

I can't wait to read Wintergirls, which I think will appeal to me in a similar way.

1 comment:

Sean said...

OMG, I am SOOOOO surprised to learn that this was your first trip through "Speak," and SOOO glad that it lived up to a decade of positive press & word of mouth for you. It's just that good ...

I'll be very eager to hear what you have to say about "Wintergirls." My blog post about it has been sitting in draft form for a couple of weeks now. I'll finish writing it soon enough. For me, the experience was an order of magnitude more intense than "Speak."