Forgotten Books

March 24, 2010

Dear Blue,

I haven’t had as much chance to use you lately. I’ve been reading by the televised glow of NCAA March Madness at night instead (Go Buckeyes!). Perhaps you’ve enjoyed the break, curled up into your little coil on the nightstand next to my box of brightly colored fingernail polishes and the crumbs of my preztels. No? Well, let me update you on what you’ve missed. I’ve begun reading a new book-The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. I’m not sure what to make of it yet. It is the story of two main characters: Nell and Cassandra. Nell is Cassandra’s grandmother, but the story shifts and twists to reveal both characters at different ages. When we first meet Nell, she is 4 and alone on a boat to Australia. The family at the dock adopts her and her father reveals that secret to her on her 18th birthday. Nell’s sense of identify and self unravels in the face of that revelation. Nell travels back to the place of her origin to find her roots and, I’m guessing here, to restore her identity. Cassandra’s mother abandoned her with Nell when Cassandra was 8. Cassandra’s story is of finding out about her grandmother’s search for identity after her death.

That’s all I know so far. I am enjoying the issues about family and identity that this story is posing, but I’m just not absolutely hooked yet. Morton’s writing is really beautiful though-last night I read a section about 8-year-old Cassandra exploring her grandmother’s basement on a sweltering summer day and it was rivieting in how true it rang to my own memory of being a sweaty, bored 8-year-old girl. I was impressed enough by those few pages to keep reading further.

Also outside of your sphere of light, I recently picked up an audiobook of Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary, as read by Stockard Channing. My aunt recommended it for the girls and I picked it up so that Eve could listen to it at night before bed. Trouble is, I’m hesitant to relinquish it. I’ve been listening to it in the car and really enjoying the memories that Ramona evokes. I loved all the Ramona books and reliving them has been so enjoyable. I’ll be on to disc 2 in a day or so and then I can pass disc 1 along to Eve. I’m hoping she likes them too. I always loved that Ramona named her doll Chevrolet. That always stuck with me. She was the original Fancy Nancy in some ways…

I’ve got two terribly interesting looking books waiting for my time on your nightstand, Blue. Little Bee by Chris Cleaves and Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. The GoodReads synopsis of Little Bee says virtually nothing, so as to avoid spoiling it. How mysterious…I’ve waited a while for them and they are on the reserve list at the library so I won’t be able to renew them. I’ve got to get cracking on them soon. So I’m hoping to make some head way with Morton’s Garden this upcoming weekend. Don’t be jealous. Soon, Little Blue, you’ll be following along again…

Until then,

Amy

Seriously, I don’t want to stop reading this. It builds on the knowledge gained by reading legions of other “child-like” magic books-harry potter (though its “child-like-ness” certainly grows questionable further in the series) and Narnia (perhaps the same could be said of this one), but takes a darker, more adult tone to the concepts of those books and certainly is an original story in its own right. I’m on page 135 and already stressed about there being an end 200 pages from now-it’s just getting so good.

March 8, 2010
Still reading this one. Took the evening and sat on the couch to read. Going through some bad stuff personally, and it was great to lose myself in this story for a while. It finally started getting at the question of: What do you do when you graduate magic school and there is no villan? Can you build a fulfilling and happy life out of magic? I was really interested in that question, but just as I was dropping off to sleep last night, the plot took a twist and now I’m wondering if the author has abandoned that question because the answer is just TOO dark. The plot twist is interesting, but I hope the author can maintain the adult, dark edge given the new twist. We shall see…

March 10, 2010

Yes, the author can still maintain that dark edge. The adventure these characters is on at this point seems to pull the dark and sinister versions of original fairy tales into the plot. It reminds me of the political background of Wicked by Gregory Maguire. Drunk magical bears, a sad birch dryad smoking a cigarette in a bar, and evil elves dressed in black leather. Bad news and seemingly tragic-like finding the worlds we loved as children are truly dark and grim and scary and weird, but gripping…totally gripping in thier familiarity and hauntedness. What’s fascinating at this point is how the different characters react to this new grim world. Some finding their bravery, some making that world their own, and some falling apart at the seams. Can’t wait to read more.