Smackdown Books 2018

Wolf Hollow
Salt to the Sea
The Serpent King
Optimists Die First
The Hate U Give
Orphan Island
Dan vs. Nature
The Female of the Species
Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere
Paper Girls, Vol. 1
The Passion of Dolssa
The Distance Between Us
When We Collided
Louis parmi les spectres
Girl in the Blue Coat
Defy the Stars

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

This One Summer is my pick.  Summer takes me back, beautifully to that time where reality interfered with my innocence—the time in every girls' life just before the emotional demands of womanhood beset and upset them.  This is a graphic novel and the superb drawings evoke the long summer days and the pre-teen exploration of the world, the slight understanding of sex and the desire to know more in some lazy summer way.

Two young friends are the observers of the life around them- a life that seems very hostile to women.  The mother is depressed; the teenager manning the corner store denies culpability in another teenager's pregnancy and is the object of the tween’s faint lust.  Not too much happens in this observation- though the mother breaks through her depression when saving another's life.  The tween’s are watching the summer unfold and then it is over.  Summer’s end.  Thinly disguised , this is a fairly typical Wasaga Beach (called Awago in the book) summer narrative, where young girls watch horror movies, discuss sex and commit small betrayals as they grow up.  

The Impossible Knife of Memory is my partner's original choice..  It is a somewhat heartbreaking story of a high school senior, Hayley. Her blocked memories of her past, both good and bad, unfold.  Along with her edgy character and anger, she has built her own protective shield as she looks after her father, a veteran of Afghanistan.  Both suffer forms of PTSD.  Neither experience magic answers but as painful memories creep forward, Hayley slowly builds skills to face her past and future, and learns to trust in meaningful relationships.  She is real and tough and Anderson builds character expertly.

I found Impossible Knife a formulaic teenager’s novel with the new twist of PTSD though it works as an narrative in a way that Summer did not.  The character build in This One Summer was left mainly to the drawings and not the dialogue and the plot was weak. They were both journeys through childhood— the Impossible Knife a little less overt discussion about sex but there was just a bit more magic in This One Summer.

I won.  I am bigger and Nancy didn't dislike This One Summer.  So this we choose.

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