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

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


I can certainly echo the sentiments of almost every other Smacker - there were novels knocked off in previous rounds that I would have much more enthusiastically endorsed than any of our final three. For me, it was Eleanor & Park. *Sniff*.

But, no use dwelling on could-have-beens. I enjoyed Bomb immensely (particularly because I read it during the Olympics, and it helped me understand why the Norwegians dominated every cross-country skiing event - their forebears had to ski away from Nazis, by George!) But... I'm a bit of a history nerd, and I'm not sure this one would have the wide, enthusiastic audience that a Smackdown winner should.

The One and Only Ivan was a heartwarming little tale that had me thinking a lot about our very own Lucy the Elephant saga here at the Edmonton Valley Zoo.  But... it failed to really capture me. I wish I could be more articulate and thoughtful as to why, but there it is.

And so, that leaves my vote to go to Counting by 7s. There was definitely some implausibility involved, like Jairo's incredible lottery win, but I chalked that up to an "Introduction to Magic Realism" approach, perhaps? And the whole "the mother has been secretly saving for years and is a stealth millionaire" thing doesn't sit super well with me either... But is it a major flaw in the resolution, or just a revelation of a major flaw in a character, who has up until that point seemed a little too perfect?  Ultimately, it was the characters that sealed it for me in this battle. All of them had flaws and deficiencies, but all of them also made attempts to improve themselves and mitigate their failings. (Sure, Dell's attempts at personal growth were superficial at first, but he eventually got with the proverbial program.) Even with its limitations, I feel like Counting by 7s has the most substance to offer to the most readers.

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