Smackdown Books 2017

Arlene's smackdown17 book montage

The Memory of Things
Hour of the Bees
The Gospel Truth
Ultraman, Vol. 1
The Bunker Diary
Trouble Is a Friend of Mine
Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy
The Hired Girl
An Ember in the Ashes
The Porcupine of Truth
Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir
Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans
Goodbye Stranger
Beautiful Blue World
The Blackthorn Key
All American Boys

Friday, March 23, 2012

To play with an awful pun - because there are so few good ones - I was "split" on which book to put forward for the next round.  My choices were Brian Selznick's Wonderstruck, and Swati Avasthi's Split. And the problem is, I enjoyed them both, but for very different reasons.

Wonderstruck was fun and fantastical.  The weaving of the two plot lines through illustrations and text was seamless, and I roared through the book in one setting.  As long as kids don't get frightened off by the physical bulk of the book, I can see them truly enjoying what Selznick has to offer, and asking for more.

Split's story of abuse, and how it can devastate a family, was also a one sitting read.  I really became involved in the lives of Jace and Christian, and thought the topic was dealt with truthfully and respectfully. I also appreciated that there was not a fairy tale ending: no, dad doesn't miraculously reform, mom doesn't do the right thing and leave, and the boys are still kinda messed up.  Sounds more like real life.

Both novels had their flaws.  The ending of Wonderstruck was contrived to bring everyone together in an improbable, but happy ending. Split has some predictable secondary characters who really don't contribute much to the plot or characterization of Jace.

After much deliberation, though, I am going to plump for Split.  It is a story that can't be told enough: how individuals cope with abuse and conflict in their lives, and find the means within themselves to overcome.

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