Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Grumpy Book Review

Until a few days ago, I have been unlucky with my book choices.  I pick a book that looks great based on the blurb, and  then I end up disappointed.  Take Going Bovine by Libba Bray, for example. 

This book even won the Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature, and I couldn't even get past the third page.  There was just too much swearing.  Now I know I am not the demographic that this book is aimed at, but really, does the author actually think that vulgarity is going to give her an edge with the young adult crowd?  And, yes, I know that many teenagers swear. Good grief, I'm a junior high teacher. They have a hard time using more than a precious few adjectives/interjections.  But to load the first few pages with vulgarities including a popular texting abbreviation, is not going to endear the author to teens or make her popular with the teen in crowd. What the flip was she thinking?  Give teens more credit!

Because I didn't finish the book, I have no idea why it won such a prestigious award.  I even have read in other reviews that the swearing never lets up and the main character has a sexual encounter with an angel.  Whatever.  

Luckily, Libba Bray is redeeming herself.  I am over 100 pages into  A Great and Terrible Beauty, which I am enjoying and there are only a few well-placed swear words.  When I finish the book I will post more.

I also did not finish Little Bee by Chris Cleave.  This novel started out so promising.  The story is about a 16 year old Nigerian girl, Little Bee, who crosses paths with a couple from London. It is a tale of her experiences as a refugee in England.  The problem is that the story fizzles about when Little Bee finds her way to the home of the wife just after the wife's husband dies, and when the wife's boyfriend becomes a more prominent part of the story.  The story simply looses its momentum.  Again, what is with the vulgarity?  I'm a professional woman and I never hear my colleagues speak like this, nor do my friends and family litter their speech with vulgarity in casual conversation.  I must be living in an alternate universe. 

Speaking of living in an alternate universe, I was the only one in my book club that did not like Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt, by Beth Hoffman. And it was the first time I'd been invited to book club.  I hope they invite me back.  Not only that, the book got many 5 star reviews on Amazon.  I would have given it 1 star. 

The book takes place in Georgia in 1962. Talk about exploiting every Southern stereotype. The kindly rich, white woman who employs the black mammy-like cook/sage, the Spanish moss, the perfect Southern hospitality-it goes on and on.   All the adult women give Cee Cee, a 12 year old girl whose mentally ill mother has been killed, little bits of helpful words of wisdom that just became saccharin and insipid.  The plot never seemed to do much, and everything wrapped up in a tidy, perfect, unrealistic package. 

But the most unrealistic part of all, was the garden party that Cee Cee's aunt throws for her. Aunt Tootie invites her black maid, Oletta, as a guest and also invites Oletta's black friends.  And no one says anything except for a neighbor who is not well liked anyway.  I don't care how good of a woman Aunt Tootie was, that would have never happened in Savannah in 1962.  Even if she would have invited Oletta and her friends, the other ladies wouldn't have attended.  As awful as we know this to be now days, it wouldn't have taken place.  Nor would the Jerry Springer-like cat fight between the neighbors have occured in polite, aristocratic, Savannah society. 

So book club, please don't kick me out. Even though I'm not finished yet, I like the pick for next month, A Girl Named Zippy, by Haven Kimmel.  There is hope for me! (But I'm not reading anything by Glenn Beck--just saying.)

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