Saturday, July 27, 2013
Kid Lit #2
The story begins in a most intriguing way…“My sister Rose lives on the mantelpiece. Well, some of her does”. It is quite the hook. I just had to know what went on from there, and, as you can tell from the first two sentences it was mostly bad. This is not a feel good story. I have to say that by the end of chapter nine I was ready to put the book down because it just hurt too much. I take issue with some solutions found to deal with serious problems for the main protagonist and his friend, and I am concerned with the impression they leave. I wouldn’t want someone to think that this is the way to behave, especially after working so hard to promote the message of tolerance.
After the raw emotions of the last book, reading A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle was like a soothing balm. Before I even read the first page I was already feeling better. The book is beautiful inside and out. I have always thought it is great when the book is physically lovely, the illustrations, and the paper had a warp and weft to it that was just nice to the touch. It adds to the over-all experience, and makes you think that you have treasure in your hands
The subject matter was beautiful as well. I loved how these four generations of women interacted together, I loved their language (Irish vernacular), their sense of humour (also very Irish), and how it was all so soft and gentle. After I was done I wanted to rush out and buy whatever else Doyle has written, because I was so moved by this wonderful book.
I have to admit that I did not want to read this book. It is obviously an ‘issue book’ and I am not too keen about this particular issue, self image. Eventually though, after the initial angst and misery, I was interested in Ever’s story.
I guess my biggest fear with books like these is the way that the issue is resolved. I am always worried that the means to the end are not the healthiest, and will perhaps be the popular, idealized norm… overweight girl is miserable, loses weight , gets a makeover, is now the most popular girl in school and trips off into the sunset with the football captain, tra la shallow la. I am very happy to report that this doesn’t happen in this book (the idealized norm part! What… did you think I would give you spoilers?). This is a really good book! One, I think, that should be in high school libraries, not just because of the issues, but because the author shows that everyone has feelings and has their own problems, and that there are more important things in life than being like everyone else. The author did this very well, and in a way that I think a teenage girl would be able to understand and empathise.
Since it is the third book in a series the story didn’t make too much sense up front, but since you are dumped right into the story it keeps you distracted from the fact that you don’t really know what is going on. There are little pieces of information through out the book so you get a bit of back story, while you are zipping along each page (it’s fast paced and full of stress so you want to rip on through), there’s a little history, some science fiction, and some references to things that kids might want to look up if they are interested, plus I believe there is a website and online games, so there is lots to keep a kid interested.
This book puts me in mind of a saga, in it’s breadth and scope. It’s a lot to begin with, especially if you don’t have the background from the first book to carry you forward, but fortunately Hull catches you up throughout the book, so you understand what is going on, and above all makes you want to reads the first one just so you don’t miss anything. There is a lot more to think about in this story, and there are messages here that aren’t obvious, it’s the thinking kids story, packed full of action and deeds and a little magic, perfect for a saga length tale.