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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Magical Realism, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 76
1. Graceful - a review

When I reviewed The Last Present by Wendy Mass, I wrote the following:
The Last Present is the final book in the Willow Falls (or "birthday") series, realistic fiction with just the right amount of magic, courtesy of Angelina, the mysterious old woman with the duck-shaped birthmark. Angelina is seemingly the architect of all that occurs in Willow Falls, the town where nothing happens by coincidence and everything happens for a reason. Readers of the series will delight in revisiting their favorite characters - Leo, Amanda, Tara, Rory, David and all rest, as their stories intertwine and the story of Angelina is finally revealed. ... I'm sad to see it come to an end. It's been great fun!
Apparently, I wasn't the only one who was sorry to see the Willow Falls series come to an end. In the forward to Graceful (Scholastic, 2015), Wendy Mass writes that her readers let her know "IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS" that they were not ready for the series to end.  Graceful (due out tomorrow) is a gift to her readers.

I think fans of the series will be happy with Graceful, in which Grace fills in (somewhat unwittingly) for the mysterious Angelina as the architect of all that occurs in Willow Falls.  This is a series about friendship and family and the cosmic connectedness of all things. It can best be described as magical realism, and it is a series that should be read sequentially.  Mass does her best to catch the reader up with previous occurrences, but the series is so intricately plotted that it is difficult to skip a book or read them out of order.

Willow Falls has been a great place to visit, but I think Ms. Mass is ready to move on now.  All of our questions have been answered and all loose ends are tied.  It's been fun!  Enjoy!

The Willow Falls series by Wendy Mass


My Advance Reader Copy was supplied by the publisher.

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2. TURNING PAGES: THE LUMBERJANES Vol 1, by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke Allen, and Shannon Watters

It's a truth acknowledged universally &tc. that I am not the artsy person in this blog duo. A.F. - she draws, she's Cybil'd, she has the degree, etc. - so she has the relationships with the graphic novel companies the graphics are her schtick. I...... Read the rest of this post

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3. The Game of Love and Death: Review

The Game of Love and Death is perilous indeed. This is one where I shouldn’t reveal too much of how the book unfolds as it is best left to the reader to discover all of the mysteries and intricacies on their own. At its core this novel is a reflection on love, and loving, and life. On what it means to love, and what it means to love in the face of overwhelming obstacles. “Someday, everyone you love will die. Everything you love will crumble to ruin. This is the price of life. This is the price of love. It is the only ending for every true story.” This is the story of Flora Saudade and Henry Bishop. Two people who are kept apart by the standards of their time, but also by the very forces of Love and Death themselves. It is a heart achingly beautiful story and one... Read more »

The post The Game of Love and Death: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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4. Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge


Amulet Books, May 2015

Triss has woken up, not really knowing what happened before.  She vaguely remembers who she is, where she’s from, or who her family is.  Triss is also afraid.  She sees the dolls she’s always loved since childhood, watching her as she moves around the room, calling to her.  Is it her mind playing tricks on her or is it really happening?  All she knows is she’s ravenously hungry…

When the Crescents arrive home after their fatal holiday, they also begin to notice changes in their beloved daughter.  She’s eating everything set before her as well as everything in the pantry.  She begins to snoop on her parents’ conversation instead of being the docile and obedient daughter she once was.  The only thing that hasn’t changed is her little sister’s utter contempt and hatred for her. 

Triss begins to notice changes in herself she desperately tries to hide.  Leaves fall from her hair and dirt ends up in her bed and nightgown.  She’s eaten some of the dolls in the room and has even gone outside to devour the rotten apples no longer clinging to the trees.  These slow changes come to fruition when she realizes exactly who she is…and she’s not Triss.

Pen, her little sister, has been in contact with the Architect, a dark man who is handsomely disguised, driving a beautifully menacing black Daimler.  He’s the one who had the power to bring Triss to life and trade her for the real Triss.  He also isn’t finished with the havoc he wants to reap on Piers Crescent and him family for the binding agreement Piers made with him.  Something dark and personal…  Triss realizes she needs to help not only stop to the Architect and the Besiders from hurting the real Triss, but also from hurting her as well. 

Set in the backdrop of England after World War I, the reader will get completely lost is the magical realism Hardinge writes.  You’ll meet characters like Violet, a girl who loves jazz and rides a motorcycle but always is running from the winter she brings to Mr. Grace, a tailor who wields his scissors with talent along with the beautiful tea cakes he sets before his guests to the family dynamics of the Crescents, who don’t like change in a world on the tip of tremendous transformation.    Hardinge takes everything from a magical period in history and blends it with the magic in the book portrayed from the sympathetic Triss to the ruthlessness of the Architect to the strange creatures called the Besiders who live within the bridges and buildings of the city.  EXCELLENT read and highly recommended for JH/HS.

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5. Thursday Review: THE WALLS AROUND US by Nova Ren Suma

Summary: Happy book birthday—two days ago—to Nova Ren Suma's latest YA offering, The Walls Around Us! This title shares a lot with Imaginary Girls, most noticeably the atmosphere of strangeness and the slow unfolding of past and present events;... Read the rest of this post

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6. TURNING PAGES: HARRISON SQUARED by DARYL GREGORY

I guess you know I'm not a "real" old-school Science Fiction person - "real" Science Fiction people can make it through H.P. Lovecraft. I can't. I've tried. It's not his labyrinthine sentence structure and 19th century word choices - I've read a lot... Read the rest of this post

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7. Bone Gap: Review

How do you review an unreviewable book? The entire book reads as if it is a dream. How do you describe a dream? There is an impossibility in trying to make sense of what can not be made sense of. I can try to describe to you the aspects that correlate with reality. But when they take a sudden nose dive into the magical, the inexplicable, the surreal…how do I explain that? This is a book full of contradictions. It is a fairytale and it is not. It is a love story and it is not. It is a mythical retelling and it is not. On the surface, this is a book about a young woman who has been kidnapped and about her teenage friend’s struggle to come to terms with what happened. But it is so much more than that. What it is is a compelling, tautly told story... Read more »

The post Bone Gap: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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8. Cybils Finalist Review: THROUGH THE WOODS by Emily Carroll

Summary: Horror fans take note: if you're a fan of, say, Holly Black, Neil Gaiman, Edgar Allan Poe--you will not want to miss this graphic novel compilation of spooky tales by webcomic artist Emily Carroll. It's beautiful, and frightening, and... Read the rest of this post

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9. Echo: A Novel - a review

If this is how the year is starting out, it's going to be a banner year for middle-grade books.  First, Gordon Korman's Masterminds (more on that fantastic new thriller another day) and now Echo: A Novel.

Ryan, Pam Muñoz. 2015. Echo: A Novel. New York: Scholastic.

I received an Advance Reader Copy of Echo from Scholastic and was intrigued that it was wrapped in musical notation paper and had a smartly-boxed Hohner Blues Band harmonica tied to it.


I was happy to see an apparently music-related book, and what somewhat surprised to find that Echo begins with a fairytale, "The Thirteenth Harmonica of Otto Messenger," a fairytale replete with abandoned princesses, a magical forest, a mean-spirited witch, and a prophecy,

"Your fate is not yet sealed.  Even in the darkest night, a star will shine, a bell will chime, a path will be revealed."

Though brief, I became enthralled with the tale and was surprised and taken aback when I reached Part One and found myself not in the fairytale forest, but in

Trossingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, 1933, home to the world's oldest harmonica manufacturer.  I couldn't wait to find out what became of the abandoned princesses, but soon found myself wrapped up in the story of young Friedrich Schmidt, a German Jew during Hitler's ascendance to power.  This kind-hearted, young boy of a musical family was surely destined to be gathered up in the anti-Semitic wave sweeping through Germany. I became engrossed in Friedrich's story, anxiously hoping that things would work out for him and his family, and was again surprised when I reached Part Two and found myself in

Philadelphia, 1935, home of the then-famous Albert Hoxie and the Philadelphia Harmonica Band, and of the Bishop's Home for Friendless and Destitute Children, where I found myself in the company of piano-playing orphans, Mike and Frankie Flannery.  Their story was no less heart-wrenching than Friedrich's, and I found myself desperately rooting for the young boys when I suddenly arrived

in a migrant worker's community in Southern California, 1942, where young Ivy Maria Lopez was about to play her harmonica on the Colgate Family Hour radio show, but her excitement was short-lived.  I fell in with this hard-working, American family and hoped, along with Ivy, for her brother's safe return from the war.

Of course, there's more, but this is where I will leave off.

Pam Muñoz Ryan has written a positively masterful story that will take the reader from the realm of magic through the historical travails of the infirm, the oppressed, and the poor in the midst of the 20th century.  Through it all, music gathers the stories together in a symphony of hope and possibility.  In music, and in Echo, there is a magic that will fill your soul.

It may only be February, but I predict that praise for Echo will continue throughout the year.


On a library shelf near you - February 24, 2015.

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10. TURNING PAGES: STRANGER, by RACHEL MANIJA BROWN & SHERWOOD SMITH

I was reminded of the controversy surrounding this title in its infancy when I happened upon a Big Idea article about it last month. I'm pretty sure the authors are quite tired of the novel being tied to the... Read the rest of this post

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11. Call for Submissions: Fairy Tale Review

Submissions are now being accepted for the twelfth annual issue, The Ochre Issue, of Fairy Tale Review. The Ochre Issue has no particular theme—simply send your best fairy-tale work along the spectrum of mainstream to experimental, fabulist to realist. 

We accept fiction, nonfiction, drama, and poetry, in English or in translation to English, along with scholarly, hybrid, and illustrated works (comics, black-line drawings, etc.).

The reading period will remain open until the issue is full—we predict closing it sometime in late spring or early summer. 

For full guidelines, visit our website.

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12. Review: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton. Candlewick Press. 2014. Reviewed from ARC. Morris Finalist.

The Plot: To understand Ava Lavender and her wings, you have to understand her mother and her grandmother before her. So Ava tells the story of the three generations of women in her family, of their loves, and how they survived heart break and loss.

And how Ava was born with wings, and how that shaped her life.

The Good: Yes, Ava was born with wings -- The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is a beautifully written work of magical realism. Ava's being born with wings is something obvious to the world, but there are other things throughout the book, from a sister who turns herself into a bird to ghosts to how the women in Ava's family sometimes see or hear or smell the world around them.

I loved the language of this book, and began jotting down phrases almost from the start: "Foreseeing the future, I would later learn, means nothing if there is nothing to be done to prevent it." "My whole heart for my entire life."

When telling the story of her mother Viviane and grandmother Emilienne, the women who raised her, Ava concentrates mostly on their loves and lost loves and betrayals of their teen years. And while the introduction mentions things that Ava does as a grown woman, the story in the book -- like the stories of Vivane -- takes place during Ava's teen years. Obviously, Emilienne and Viviane grown older, but the most important part of their lives -- the part that Ava talks about -- are the parts when they are young women.

I mention this in part because, given the multiple generation storytelling and that Ava's own story doesn't start until half way through, it's tempting to wonder why this is a young adult book and not an adult book. I know I did -- but I think it's because, in part, the most important things that happen in Emilienne and Viviane and Ava's lives, the things that shape them, the things the book are about are all events from their years as young women.

I can easily see who I would recommend this book to -- the language is lovely and lush. Readers who like magical realism. Teens who want something different from a reading experience. And book discussion groups -- there is a lot to talk about and examine and analyze.

I have to confess something, though. This is the book that shows I can read not just as a reader, but as a librarian, looking to see who would like a book and also recognizing just how great a book. But. And sorry -- but this isn't a book for "me", as a reader. If I were on a committee, I would be open to persuasion and open to arguments about why to vote for this book. But for me, the way that loss and despair practically broke Emilienne and Vivianne for so long -- it just was too depressing. And (more spoilers) there is a violent attack at the end that bothered me not so much from the realism of the violence and hatred, but for what was behind it. Again: this is a personal, reader reaction. That's about me, not the book.

Other reviews: the School Library Journal Someday My Printz Will Come blog; Steph Sinclair at the Tor blog; A Book and a Latte.



Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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13. TURNING PAGES: THE SEVENTH BRIDE, by T. Kingfisher

Fans of Patricia McKillip, Juliet Marillier, Brenna Yovanoff, fans of Holly Black's plot twists, as well as fans of a good hedgehog will really enjoy the newest tale from T. Kingfisher, just in time to read whilst you're waiting for your root veg to... Read the rest of this post

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14. TURNING PAGES: THE IRON TRIAL by Cassandra Clare & Holly Black

I take book recommendations from friends seriously, and when Charlotte said that THE IRON TRIAL was a fun book, I went ahead and snagged it when I saw it at the library. Charlotte - diffident reviewer that she tends to be - tends toward... Read the rest of this post

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15. TURNING PAGES: PROPHECIES, LIBEL & DREAMS by YSABEAU S. WILCE

Not gonna lie; we've been the bemused and bedazzled fans of Ysabeau Wilce since waaaaaay back in the day and the advent of her first book of Western fantasy, packed with rangers, skirted men, hummingbird gods, and plain craziness. We invited her by... Read the rest of this post

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16. Gabriel García Márquez sigue


"The day shit is worth money, poor people will be born without an asshole."

Those aren't my words; they're from Gabriel García Márquez, who's given us some of the greatest in any language.

QEPD = Que en Paz Descanse is the Spanish equivalent to "rest in peace." After I posted notes about Marquez passing, an Anglo friend sent me condolences: "Lo siento," he said, "sorry."

I'll say the sentiment was good, but the intended audience was too narrow. Latinos don't need condolences from Anglos, about Márquez's death. He belongs to the world's peoples and in that sense, is relevant and part of us all.

Márquez, a political creature
There's the tendency to mention magical realism whenever Márquez's name comes up. That bothers me as an indirect slotting of his work, like it was "only" an example of latinoamericano speculative literature. Anymore than Crime and Punishment should be called genre horror or thriller. Some works and writers defy delimiting, like Márquez and his works. However much he defined magical realism, he also shred that envelope, passing into the realm of Classic.

Here's more of his words, not usually quoted:
The world must be all fucked up when men travel first class and literature goes as freight.
I don’t think you can write a book that’s worth anything without extraordinary discipline.
With The Thousand and One Nights, I learned and never forgot that we should read only those books that force us to reread them.
Literature was the best plaything that had ever been invented to make fun of people.
If men gave birth, they'd be less inconsiderate.
The secret of a good old age is simply an honorable pact with solitude.


Whatever type of reader you are, you haven't lived unless you've experienced at least one of Márquez's epics. Below are the openings to two novels. Go outside somewhere by yourself, read them once for meaning, sentido, then read them aloud for the music. This might make you wonder if you should read the entire book. You should.

from Love in the Time of Cholera:


(translation): It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love. Dr. Juvenal Urbino noticed it as soon as he entered the still darkened house where he had hurried on an urgent call to attend a case that for him had lost all urgency many years before. The Antillean refugee Jeremiah de Saint-Amour, disabled war veteran, photographer of children, and his most sympathetic opponent in chess, had escaped the torments of memory with the aromatic fumes of gold cyanide.

from One Hundred Years of Solitude:
Muchos años después, frente al pelotón de fusilamiento, el coronel Aureliano Buendía había de recordar aquella tarde remota en que su padre lo llevó a conocer el hielo. Macondo era entonces una aldea de veinte casas de barro y cañabrava construidas a la orilla de un río de aguas diáfanas que se precipitaban por un lecho de piedras pulidas, blancas y enormes como huevos prehistóricos. El mundo era tan reciente, que muchas cosas carecían de nombre, y para mencionarlas había que señalarlas con el dedo.

a children's book on Márquez
(translation): Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, General Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. At that time Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses, built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs. The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point.

Esquirere-posted a Márquez short story, The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Erendira and Her Heartless Grandmother that you can read in full.

I'm not sad Márquez died. He was mortal and reached a logical end. I don't know how his last weeks, months, years were, given a cancer he suffered; perhaps he was grateful to end his time, even. But before that, he left his people, his species, with enough to prove that he'd been here and done good. Great. Phenomenal. So, while his energy has left his body, some remains locked in his prose, to be shared by those to come.

Salud al maestro Marquez!

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17. Monday Review: THE CRACKS IN THE KINGDOM by Jaclyn Moriarty

I devolve to such a squealing fangirl when it comes to Jaclyn Moriarty. I think everything she does is brilliant and we've made no secret around here of our admiration for her writing (cf. the gushing fan letter we wrote for One Shot World Tour:... Read the rest of this post

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18. Reading in Tandem: "The Lost," by Sarah Beth Durst

It's bits of ephemera -- a favorite song that popped into your head like a mini-book soundtrack, who you think would be best as the lead if they ever turned it into a movie, your fervent hope that they never, ever, turn it into a movie -- things... Read the rest of this post

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19. TURNING PAGES: WHERE SILENCE GATHERS, by Kelsey Sutton

This is a companion novel, second in the SOME QUIET PLACE series. SOME QUIET PLACE, which was published in 2012, has a common emotional personification, but that's the only overlap; it's definitely a standalone novel. While the cover is... Read the rest of this post

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20. Writing Competition: Fairy Tale Review Awards in Poetry and Prose

Fairy Tale Review Awards in Poetry and Prose

2014 Prose & Poetry Contest Guidelines

Fairy Tale Review is thrilled to announce the debut of an annual contest, beginning this year with Prose & Poetry awards. We’re interested in poems, stories, and essays with a fairy-tale feel—mainstream to experimental, genre to literary, realist to fabulist. Sarah Shun-lien Bynum will judge prose; Ilya Kaminsky will judge poetry. Both contests will award $1000, and all submissions will be considered for publication in The Mauve Issue. Reading fee: $10.

Submit online or to:

Fairy Tale Review, c/o Kate Bernheimer
Department of English
University of Arizona
Tucson AZ 85721

Deadline: July 15th, 2014

Awards: $1,000 each

Eligibility & Procedure

All submissions must be original and previously unpublished. For prose, please send works of up to 6,000 words. For poetry, no more than five poems and/or ten pages per entry. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable, but please withdraw your manuscript immediately upon acceptance elsewhere, and note that the reading fee is nonrefundable. Multiple submissions are acceptable, but please note that you will need to pay a reading fee for each submission.

Online submissions link.

Reading Fee: $10.00
Ten percent of your reading fee will be donated to Tucson Youth Poetry Slam as part of Fairy Tale Review’s interdisciplinary outreach efforts. (Fairy Tale Review has no official affiliation with Tucson Youth Poetry Slam.)

CLMP Contest Code of Ethics

CLMP’s community of independent literary publishers believe that ethical contests serve our shared goal: to connect writers and readers by publishing exceptional writing. We believe that intent to act ethically, clarity of guidelines, and transparency of process form the foundation of an ethical contest. To that end, we agree to 1) conduct our contests as ethically as possible and to address any unethical behavior on the part of our readers, judges, or editors; 2) to provide clear and specific contest guidelines—defining conflict of interest for all parties involved; and 3) to make the mechanics of our selection process available to the public. This Code recognizes that different contest models produce different results, but that each model can be run ethically. We have adopted this Code to reinforce our integrity and dedication as a publishing community and to ensure that our contests contribute to a vibrant literary heritage.

Fairy Tale Review Annual Contest Selection Process

1st Round of Judging: Non-Blind Read by Genre Editor and Editor. Finalists (approximately 15 poems, 15 pieces of prose) will then be forwarded to the contest judges for the 2nd Round of Judging.
2nd Round of Judging: Blind Read by Contest Judges. Judges change on a yearly basis.
Conflicts of Interest: Students, faculty, staff, or administrators currently affiliated with University of Arizona are ineligible for consideration or publication. Anyone with a substantial personal or professional affiliation with a judge is ineligible to enter in that category; if you have questions as to your eligibility, please contact ftreditorial (at) gmail (dot) com, and we will assess the situation together. Upon learning the Judges’ selections, the Editor will assess any potential conflict of interest before finalizing the result. We ask that past winners of our contest refrain from entering until three years after their winning entry was published.

Fairy Tale Review was established in 2005 and is an annual publication of Wayne State University Press.

About the Judges

Sarah Shun-lien Bynum is the author of two novels, Ms. Hempel Chronicles, a finalist for the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award, and Madeleine Is Sleeping, a finalist for the 2004 National Book Award and winner of the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize. Her fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including the New Yorker, Tin House, the Georgia Review, and the Best American Short Stories 2004 and 2009. The recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and an NEA Fellowship, she was named one of “20 Under 40” fiction writers by the New Yorker. She lives in Los Angeles and teaches in the Graduate Writing Program at Otis College of Art and Design.

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21. Monday Review: OBSIDIAN MIRROR and THE SLANTED WORLDS by Catherine Fisher

You wouldn't necessarily think time travel, alternate worlds, mad science, and faeries would go together so well. But when it comes to Catherine Fisher, they really do. I loved her books Incarceron and the sequel Sapphique for their unique... Read the rest of this post

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22. Thursday Review: THE WRENCHIES by Farel Dalrymple

Click to embiggen. Totally worth it.Two things to get out there right away: 1. I received a review copy of this book from First Second, and 2. I'd definitely recommend this one for an older YA/crossover audience, due to some fright/violence/swearing... Read the rest of this post

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23. TURNING PAGES: BABA ALI AND THE CLOCKWORK DJINN, by Danielle Ackey-McPhail & Day Al-Mohamed

Come, Best Beloved, and sit you by my feet. I shall tell you a tale such as sister Scheherazade could have scarce imagined. A tale of wonders, of deeds both great and grievous, of courage that defies description, and above all, Child of Adam, I... Read the rest of this post

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24. TURNING PAGES: THE EMPRESS CHRONICLES, by Suzy Vitello

I admit that this book put me in a bit of a spin, when I'd finished it. I had no idea how to talk about it. Magical realism? Historical fiction? Problem novel? The line between what was, and what wasn't was... a little shaky. The pacing was very... Read the rest of this post

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25. Review: Belzhar

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer. Dutton Children's Books. 2014.

The Plot: Jam Gallahue was in love with Reese Marfield and it was wonderful and magical and all that made life living.

Was.

A year that has passed since she lost Reese, a year of life not being worth living, a year of Jam barely able to leave her bedroom, shattered by his death.

So Jam's parents have done the only thing they can think of: sending her away from her New Jersey home and all the memories, to go to The Wooden Barn, a boarding school in Vermont for those who are "emotionally fragile, highly intelligent."

Jam isn't happy to be there, but then she finds herself in a unique seminar: "Special Topics in English," with five students intensely studying one author for a semester. This year, the author is Sylvia Plath.

Each student is given a journal, to write in. And when Jam puts pen to paper ... something magical happens. She finds herself in a place where time stands still, and Reeve is hers again.

As the semester draws to a close, Jam wonders what will happen when she reaches the last page. Will she figure out a way to stay with Reese? Should she?

The Good: Another one of those books that I love, but part of what I love is the twists and turns and the reveals. It's not just the secrets: it's finding out the secrets.

Jam is at a school for the "emotionally fragile," so everyone has some type of story Hers is Reeve. Her fellow Special Topics members (Sierra, Marc, Griffin, Casey) each has had a loss; each, it turns out, can also use their journals to return to that pre-loss time. Inspired by the title of Plath's novel, The Bell Jar, they call the place they go to Belzhar.

Jam's whirlwind romance with Reeve was meaningful and magical but short: only 41 days. Actually, that is the sum total of the days they knew each other. It was sixteen days before they kissed. So Jam has only a handful of memories stored up and what she finds is in that Belzhar, she is limited to experiencing only what actually happened. Oh, it's not as if she's stepping back in time: Reeve understands that something is happening, something outside time almost, and impatiently worries about the times she isn't with him.

And... I don't want to get into spoilers, about Jam and her friends, or about Jam and Belzhar, and what it is or is not. But wowza; there was a certain deliciousness in reading and figuring out and discovering, much like there was with We Were Liars (but for different reasons.) Belzhar is not just about "emotionally fragile" people, but it's what it means to be emotionally fragile and how that shapes how you see the world and how you act in it. And aside from that, it's about the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, much like The Bell Jar itself is Plath telling her story in a certain way.

And, of course, the language! This, for example -- "to be on the verge of your life, and not to be able to enter it" is just such a good description of someone being held back and knowing they are held back, for whatever reasons.

Or this: "Because when I let go of the story I've been telling myself and just try to think about what's objectively true, I can barely get a grip." And how often is that true, also -- the truth being so frightening that we tell ourselves other things we believe to be true, to get through the day.




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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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