By Elizabeth Wroten
On 06, Mar 2013 | In Review | By Elizabeth Wroten
Maggie McKay hardly knows what to do with herself. After an idyllic childhood of homeschooling with her mother and rough-housing with her older brothers, it’s time for Maggie to face the outside world, all on her own. But that means facing high school first. And it also means solving the mystery of the melancholy ghost who has silently followed Maggie throughout her entire life. Maybe it even means making a new friend—one who isn’t one of her brothers.
I am not sure why this is getting called a coming-of-age story. Maggie has some new experiences in the novel, but I wouldn’t say she grows up in any major way. Maybe I missed something. Graphic novels are not my strong suit, although I really wish they were. I just don’t find myself lingering on the art the way I know I need to.
Despite all that, this was a really sweet book. Maggie is so cute and innocent it would be really difficult not to like her. I was especially pleased to see a homeschooled kid in a book that is actually normal and well adjusted. Come to think of it I haven’t seen that many homeschooled kids in books, so it was nice to see one. Period.
The book deals with some heavy material (Maggie’s mother has left them, navigating high school for the first time), but does it in a way that is both gentle and not too heavy-handed. There are enough twists and funny bits to make a book that could come across as simplistic feel very nuanced. I really enjoyed this one.
By Elizabeth Wroten
On 04, Mar 2013 | In Review | By Elizabeth Wroten
1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life—someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.
At Finn’s funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn’s apartment, and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she’s not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most.
This book just reminded me how foreign a concept the sibling bond is to me. Being an only child it is very difficult for me to understand how siblings relate to one another. Much like it is probably difficult for people who have siblings to understand how uninterested I am, and was, in having a sibling.
Actually, maybe it made me feel that family loyalty is also a foreign concept. The people in this family, fabulous and dead gay uncle aside, are the most petty, self-centered and mean people I have read about in a long time. (Yes, I know they aren’t real.) If my family was half as awful as any of these people I would drop them like a hot potato. No second thoughts.
In case it was unclear I really didn’t enjoy this book all that much. Largely because I found it really difficult to relate to any of the characters. Certainly I think a lot of people (people with mean siblings) could relate and love this book. Largely because it will give them hope that maybe their siblings aren’t terrible human beings. I went through the book really hating these people and not feeling especially sorry for June (to my mind she was in part to blame for some of the issues going on in the family) then suddenly the ending came along and, while it was kind of the ending you really really want for them, it rang very false to me.
I get that there were a lot of messages in this book about the power of art, the power of family, love and friendship, the need to let go, and how loss can bring people together. But seriously, I couldn’t get past how shallow these people were. Which I’m sure someone will blame on my being an only child.
By Elizabeth Wroten
On 01, Mar 2013 | In Review | By Elizabeth Wroten
Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult–also known as “The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies.”
When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer–if he doesn’t catch her first.
Libba Bray sure is the bee’s knees. This was one of those rare books I wanted to rush through to find out what happens, but wanted to slow down because I was enjoying the experience so much. I know this book is getting a lot of praise, but I can’t help heaping on some of my own.
Awhile back I read The Prophecy of the Sisters. I’ll admit I was drawn in by the cover of the first book and I paid for that. I guess the first book wasn’t awful, but as the series progressed it got worse and worse. I liked the premise of the astral or dream plane, the coming of evil, the bygone era, teens with paranormal powers, family mysteries, and murder. The thing is, as soon as I started The Diviners, I found myself thinking, this is what The Prophecy of the Sisters should have been. The Diviners really delivers on mystery, atmosphere, plot, character development and the details.
The Diviners is just a well written book and story. The plot twists and turns reveal just enough that you know there is something more but can’t quite put your finger on it. The characters at first glance seem like nothing more than types, but as the story continues tiny bits and pieces of information are leaked and you find they aren’t what they seem. I would even go so far as to suggest that one or two of them end up opposing the others. By the end of the book many of the plot pieces have fallen into place, but not all the threads of the story have come together. Just an all around good read.