Friday, November 13, 2015

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol

What do you get when you mix a disgruntled teenager, a 90-year old ghost, and a murder mystery? A pretty great graphic novel, is what.

For almost a year, Katie has been reading graphic novels as quickly as I can drive them home from the library to her. I've flipped through a couple, but this is the first one I've finished. I can definitely see the appeal. It took me about an hour to read and I hurried up to finish before picking her up at the bus stop - I knew I wouldn't stand a chance once she got her hands on it.

Knowing she hadn't read it yet, I found myself wanting to censor the content or, maybe, not even give it to her in the first place. Some of the themes are above her current experiences - at least, I hope they are! There is smoking, underage drinking, and they use the word whore a couple times - mama cringe moment. But I'm glad I pushed past that instinct and finished the book because I realized the author had to take the story certain places to bring it back round to its beautiful ending. I trust my kid. I remember reading Judy Blume and feeling like she was the only one in the world who understood. Stories spoke to me as a child and I liked knowing I could read anything and explore topics on the pages that would be too scary to try out in real life.

I find myself thrilled my daughter is going to read this book (she started in the car for the five minute drive home.) It says things that every teenager (and tween) could stand to hear at least a hundred times. But it says it in a way that will be heard - not in parent-lecture form. Graphic novels like this weren't around when I was her age, but great stories were. Anya's Ghost would have made my young self happy - it makes my, ahem, older self pretty happy too.

Monday, November 09, 2015

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

So, I know it's been a while since I've been on the blog.  That doesn't mean I haven't been reading, it just means I've been too lazy to blog about it. But now I finally have a book that I think a lot of other people will like, not just me. And in her defense, mom, who was the one who recommended it to me in the first place.

When mom and dad were down recently for a visit, I kept talking about The Haunting of Hill House (which I really should blog about because it's the only book I remember reading that made me squeal aloud in fear.) One of the things I really liked about that book was the unreliable narrator. It made the whole experience even creepier - I wasn't sure what was actually happening because the main character was all batsh*t and stuff.

The Girl on the Train is similar in that the main character isn't very reliable about telling her story - mostly because she doesn't remember large swaths of time when she blacks out due to her alcoholism. But she's likable and interesting and from the get-go I wanted to know what really happened to the missing woman that aforementioned "girl on the train" eye-stalked every day on her way to and from an imaginary job.

Another interesting device the author used (besides unreliable narration) was giving three characters a first-person voice and limiting their narration to "morning" and "evening" snapshots of their days. This made me feel like I, too, was on a train and sneaking salacious peeks at their lives like a creepy gawker. Very nice literary style.

Thanks for the great recommendation, mom! If anyone else out there likes a good mystery, check this one out. I'll be curious if you're able to figure out whodunit very far before the end of the book. What a fun ride!