Sunday, 28 March 2010
the clocks went forward an hour, so British Summer Time has begun. It's making my brain confused :P. Though my computer tells me it's 9:30, my mind thinks otherwise.
Here goes. My first book review. It probably sounds awkward and weird because, well, though I've reviewed books before, never for a book blog. My first victim is Jinx by Margaret Wild.
I first read it a few weeks ago, I borrowed it from the library. Next time I go down I'll most likely borrow it again, it's so wonderful.
Summary: Jen is an ordinary teenage girl. She lives in the suburbs with her mother and sister, Grace, who has Down's Syndrome. Though, in a quote from the book, "she loves it here/wouldn't live anywhere else/but/week after week, month after month/each day is relentlessly the same".
Suddenly and without warning, her boyfriend Charlie dies and naturally, Jen's heartbroken. She's in the depths of despair until she meets Ben, who helps her get over his death. But then he dies and a friend at school calls her "Jinx" and she believes it suits her. Jen dissapears and gets replaced by Jinx, but after meeting Hal, who she believes to be responsible for Ben's death, she tries to become Jen again.
Review: I love poetry. I especially love blank verse. So from the moment I saw it I knew I wanted to read it.
I love the way it's told. Though the story mainly revolves around Jen/Jinx, everybody in her life has a story to tell, from her friend Serena to her boyfriend's mother. It keeps alternating from the first to the third person (with the second person too if you count poems from Serena's point of view as she talks to her computer), but without any awkwardness. The story flows along and the reader is swept up with it.
The prose is wonderful. Some of the poems seem almost fleeting, but still portray the characters in a quiet sort of way. I suppose the best way to describe this would be looking at the characters from a totally different angle: "strange but beautiful", "jen's mum will write" (my favourite poems from the book), "hair", "window shopping" and so on, capturing a beautiful and fragile picture of Jen's world:
Jen's mum writes advertising copy.
She specializes in white goods:
washing machines, dryers, fridges,
She hates these appliances
power-hungry and fractious.
One day, she will have a wood stove,
and she'll write about things that matter-
she will write about birth and death,
about love and the absence of love,
about fathers and children,
about mothers and daughters,
about lovers and friends.
She'll write about the whole goddamn
wonderful, awful business
of loving and being loved.
"Strange but Beautiful", for example, doesn't directly tell you about Jen's mum's personality and physical appearance, but gives you a snapshot of her through her daydreams and thoughts.
And the characters. How I adored them all, from Grace to Connie to Hal to Stella. They all seemed to wonderfully shaped, with flaws and real depth to them. I especially liked Jen's friends: Connie, a lesbian, Serena, surrounded by luxury but neglected by her parents (Hi man/guess what?/I got a nose ring/it only took a week for my parents to notice), and Ruth, daughter of a geologist and probably my favourite character (not just because my dad has a degreee in geology). I felt all their emotions: both understood why Charlie felt so alone and felt angry and confused alongside Jen, unable to understand why he had killed himself.
It was wonderfully touching. "Things we like about our mums", following a hilarious poem called "Things we hate about our mums" almost made me cry. I don't know why when her boyfriends were dropping like flies and Jen was getting into all sorts of trouble. It was just, in a word, emotional. In two, emotional and truthful. I finished the book feeling that little more understanding about life.
Rating and extra stuff: 5 out of 5. Definitely a book to read before you die. I'm going to seek out her other blank verse novel, "One Night", when I next go down to the library.