Sunday, December 6, 2009

Some of My Favorite Things

Roses! Kittens! Kittens with roses! Interviews, like this one here. And more Bad Apple reviews, including a star from The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. Woo-hoo!

And of course, other people's books. (Reading is my reward for writing.) I was happy to see that both Francisco Stork's riveting Marcelo in the Real World and Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me on their Notable Children's Books of 2009 list. The NYT says that When You Reach Me is a "thrilling puzzle: a complex mystery, a work of historical fiction, and a story of friendship." And though it is all these things, it's so subtly, delicately written, that you don't necessarily notice the complexities as you're reading. RS keeps about 90 balls in the air and makes it look easy. It's a book I enjoyed reading as an adult, but one I would have been mad for as a kid.

About Marcelo: I have to admit that when I first heard about this book, I didn’t have much interest in it. (Did we need another Curious Incident?) But Sarah Aronson recommended it to me, so I picked it up. She was right: this book is not a rehash of Curious Incident. And simple plot descriptions simply don’t do it justice. The novel, about a young man with an Asperger-like condition forced to work in his father's law firm for a summer because his father wishes him to become a part of the “real world,” is wonderful. There are so many things about this novel I just love — the voice, the vivid secondary characters, the seamlessly unfurling story that reads in part like a thriller — I could go on and on. The novel takes seriously the formation – and erosion — of personal morality. And it takes seriously the possibility of love and commitment between people most would believe too young and too damaged to be capable of it. And though it’s cliché to say so, I could easily see this being a movie. One of my favorites of the last year.

That said, I’ve got a teetering stack of books that I’ve got to plow through, so I might have a few more favorites to talk about over the next month. (Like Justine Larbalestier’s Liar, a controversial book for more reasons than one. But I’ll save that for another day).

-- L.

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