I like the rain. I want to have a spring bookworming rain party full out with wellies—but not those Hunter Boots; absolutely not—, with yummy airy things like puffed pastries, meringues, mini fluffy cheese cakes, mousse dessert, macaroon, biscuits, crepe, and Earl Grey tea, definitely Earl Grey tea. and Tillandsia. We'd have lots of "air plants". Lots! And We'd read, but not anything structured. We'd bring books, trade books, read out-loud, pass books around between sentences and paragraphs. We'd leave with books we hadn't discovered.
I like books like I like my Jazz; euphoric, dangerous, occasionally a bit manic, sorrowful, bleak, raging, mood-incongruent, mournful, unforgivingly ragged, symbolic in a quiet way, warm apple pie for the soul. Give me a Plath style. Yōko Ogawa, M. Roach,
Criteria: Not rated on likability of characters. Not objective. I like Moxie Soda; chances are you don't.
time spent in that before bed reading slot:
5-until blurry eye 4-Later than I intended, but I still kept to my extended, extended reading time 3-I really should have been to bed an hour ago 2-customary 30 minutes. 1-book. side table. eyes closed.
How are common themes handled?
5-With an aesthetic that repurposes everyday themes into something fresh. Think of Hole Celebrity Skin covered by Cat Power 4-there is a comfortable air of familiarly.
3-Deja Vu 2. No deviation from its mates 1. Devastatingly trite, redundant, and stale.
Where would you keep it post-reading?
5-Next to my bed. 4-it's the center piece of my favorite bookshelf 3. On my other favorite bookshelf, but it's a bit dusty over their 2-Great cheap bookends 1-It never made it out of the box marked 'moving'.
5- Where is my teddy bear? Emotional-hangover 4- If I wasn't so emotionally stunted I'd cry. 3. Did James Cameron co-wrote this? Artfully contrived. 2- calculative emotional manipulation. This was literally written by James Cameron.1- I…feel…..nothing.
Mechanics (plot structure, voice, presentation, word choice, sentence structure, characters, writing style, pacing, and consistency):
5-Chanel 4-Prada 3-J-Crew 2-Gap 1-Old Navy
Disclaimer 1: good reads win. Autographed by author. Super love it.
Disclaimer 2: I'm highly conflicted here. first there is the fact this
is self published second the little reviews that this book has taken
mean that my two star will have a drastic impact.
Disclaimer 3. I am dreadfully tired, so this is one of those reviews I
will be editing throughout the day.
Disclaimer 4: I am typically OVERLY critical of books I receive from
good reads win for two reasons. It is a PR effort. It is also asking for
an option, both of book content and emotional response. As you can see I
mostly center on emotional responses with my reviews, rather than
summarize what is easily accessible via amazon or the like.
So content... what is it back?
A boy, challenged and exhausted by the history of his family—which we
will find out he doesn't fully grasp at the time, nor does he fully
understand its significance—reaches his breaking point. We have a sister
that thinks there is life on mars. We have an older brother who is
slightly demanding in the sense that he is basically a bit psychotic in
the beginning and dissects first stuffed animals in this sort of Victor
Frankenstein-esque way. We have a mother who, while having a solid job,
comes home with an amazing collection of recycled material that have
little to no psychical use—this is important to recognize—Then a step
father who has numerous jobs, and seems to not be able to focus on one
or the other.
Reaching his breaking point the Boy, John Booggle has an endlessly long
name, so he shortened it so that it is easier to write, and tell people.
He enters a world of literature bliss; or so he thinks. He creates a
creative, yet very simplistic new life. Entering this new life he
discovers that it contrasts greatly with his expectations and his
requirements. He realizes it really fit into his former self. Confused,
not able to remember his old self and therefore suffering from a strong
case of disequilibrium, John ventures out to recreate his life one
member and one step at a time.
I'll break up lost of stars into categories:
- 1 star A: Reader population
This was the more confusing part of the book. So what does amazon say
about the intended population, well they say "Though geared for middle grades (ages 8- it will also appeal to readers of all ages "This is flaw number one of the book. It seems to very much waver betweenv all three populations: 8 to 12 year olds, Young adults, and adults. The problem here is the wide spread between populations. It is easy to subscribe various requirements to meet each, and in this struggle it doesn’t really have a reader's base at all. Topics of physical abuse, with highlights of beatings, over indulgence in alcohol and the consequences adults may have in restraining themselves, as well as the
discrete echoes of molestation on the back of simplistic, younger prose and writing style just doesn’t fly. It creates points of chaos for the reader, eliciting un-nerving feelings, as well as a global feeling of "this just doesn’t work. The wide spread topics, that steadily increase and decrease in intensity create this push and pull feeling—i can only assume—for the reader. He/she just doesn’t know where he/she may fit, and thus this just doesn’t work. Essentially there is no reader’s base, essentially because it vacillates between the subjects above in a manner that is spotty. Please not that it isn’t the themes
themselves—though the stretch it too far with topics that may be age inappropriate—it is mostly because of the writing that explores these, awriting style that continues to waver between an adult conceptualization of the content to a younger level of exploration.
- 1 star B: contrived plot, characters, and transition
The book cover highlights past writings and tries to compare them with The Family that Wasn’t there. These include Tim Burton and The Wizard of Oz. Lets take the latter. We all know about this story, either through reading it, watching one of the many films, or through pop culture. However, the difficulty in reformatting any previous work is quite
difficult, and this book has difficulty establishing its uniqueness. I found it troubling that it echoed Dorothy’s ease in finding each of the characters along the yellow brick road. It also echoed and regurgitated all the themes, particularly the metaphorically and philosophical achievements each meeting provides. For me it was a clear cut, copy of
the previous work of a a supposedly new construction of the Wizard of Oz foundation. It did not establish itself from this foundation and failed to gather into new roots and new foliage that would have set it from previous works; you can re-do a recipe but it still reflects the original chef if you don’t consciously switch out ingredients. The singular ease in which John transitions from one character to another was too simplistic, lacking in detail and subconscious thoughts.
I would have even felt that the text was justified IF it was more explicit in this exploration, and allowed for conscious development of the psyche; however, this too was not fully developed. This sort of 'stumble upon' effect dampened what could have been one of the novels biggest wow factors—to borrow a phrase from Heidi Klum, re: Project Runway—. It felt overly taxing in a manner that distracted me as a reader, and lead to a type of redundancy, by which I mean I knew what was going to happen next, or at least the plot transitions were expected. Now this is a perfect example of where this reflects a younger age bracket, but the small amount of introspection and flash backs placed within these transitions and plot lines left sort of jagged feeling. As a plot device this really fell flat.
Tim Burton was another one that the back of the book cited. I didn’t see this in any way other than the items that help with the John's survival. It did have a creepy factor, which was totally different from a Tim Burton film, so congratulations of achieving this separation; however it's probably far easier to go from the visual platform seen in movies to the more two dimensional written form. The creep factor of the characters was unique, however i felt that in many instances this went too far, overly suppressing the writing, and thus hampering the over-arching premise and direction of the plot. We have a bit of Neil Gaiman, particularly Caroline. This crossed over in plot and character, however was mostly focused on plot. The venturing to discover another world, get lost in it, have characters re-established in a different manner, and then find ones way to a
different, more familiar space as been done in a more well-refined manner, as seen in Caroline and other books. One thing that I think writers will, and other do experience when writing is how to separate self from book. A slight example is the overly explored nature of Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan. One needs to perfect a certain degree of pullback if one is to fully resolve this important issue. This book falls flat in this regard, exploring more the meaning behind writing for the character, and rather the what SEEMS like the authors own feelings and thoughts about writing; all fine and well if touched on lightly rather than in a verbose manner.
minus 1 star C: over embellishment:
This book could have been at once expanded OR edited down. It's a short piece, but the huge focus on details—many of which were situational or related to the characters past—really was disrupting to the novels focus. I found it troubling that it pursued this angle and relied on physical location, such as road signs and routes, rather on the details that would have explained many of the faults referenced above. The reliance on past family configurations, such as whose aunt was whose sister, was so overly constructed, over worked that it diminished the already fractured, and under-developed elements. It was disappointing to find that these elements where the primary way through which character development was established, as it is only one characteristic of the character, and thus the characters felt under-developed. It begged for an edit in which these elements would have been reduced or where contributing contributions to other areas of character development could have been further explored.
So where did the novel shine?
The central theme of a character that re-writes his history can be interpreted in many ways on a global scale. firstly, since this character is in his teenage years, this is a perfect example of self-image, finding self, and integrating existing elements
of ones life into this reformatted version. This works more globally rather than closer up; more birds eye view. So teenager gets made at family, teenager escapes into this sort of creative journal that reflects introspection and a conscious effort to combine self and
others. Good element, just slightly faulting on its execution. Secondly, metaphorically this book could reflect the same feeling as the one previously stated, but more in a push back feeling. Teenagers and adults all feel a bit of a struggle—to put it mildly—with their
families'. The concept of creating a false reality and exploring it is a good core idea and is probably one of the easier ways of conceptualizing this text, as the better executed concepts; reality, struggle, reformation focusing on self rather than others. This may seem redundant of the above interpretation but it does contain some subtle differences.
Likewise, this possibly reflects digesting the struggles one has with deficits in impulse control, modulating emotions, as well as one's control of anger. This is quite possibly the easier way of interpreting it. Teenager gets made, flips out in an FU manner, and then gets so angry he wishes his family was dead. His mind doesn’t understand how it drifts in all sorts of distorted ways, and therefore he develops this overly simplistic manner of exploring what it would be like if those members actually vanished, actually ceased to exist, actually died. This is reinforced by harmful events caused by an absent father and child abuse. I buy into this one more because it's so abruptly resolved.
Further more—and this goes for each of the above—whatever the source may be, John realizes he can't escape those things which happened in the past, nor can he ultimately rid himself of the strife between family members and self; a sentiment echoed explicitly throughout the novel, and one which is directly explored, in a very upfront manner at the
beginning of the novel.
Another aspect i found to be a strength of this book is the issues explored. if one is to provide this book to someone fourteen and up, with a heavy interest/investment to exploring partner with a son or daughter—elevating the rehashing of abuse and the inability to integrate it into self—then we have a book that is more refined, yet still
imperfect; it just rises slightly above the heaviness of previously established faults.
Also, it was an easy read, which may contribute to the fact that in SOME cases the subplots and explicitly the undertones of abuse may be explored in a more relaxed, calm manner which would provide an interesting juxtaposition between emotionally hard opics and a softer manner of exploring them.