Hello world, today I’m writing because I finished not one, but two books! So that’s book #47 and book #48, check-check. I finished the first one and didn’t feel like writing about it that second (because it was Heavy with a capital-H) so I grabbed a different book and got sucked in before I knew what was happening.
I’ll try to keep this to a reasonable length, which is mostly always a challenge for me anyway. Both books that I most recently finished were essentially about a girl, though two very different girl situations. The first was A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride. That’s the capital-H-Heavy book.
That book was not only heavy, but also just complex and beautiful and complicated and sometimes hard to follow but so gripping. That’s a lot of description, but the book warrants a lot of description. It spans the life of this girl, the main character, and the reader gets an intense and disorienting look into her head through 200+ pages of stream of consciousness.
That took me a while to get used to, but once I did I could not put this book down. The girl (I’m just realizing, I don’t think she has a name… ah, smart) is attempting to live her own life and find herself under her mother’s unrelenting religious pressure, an absent (and later dead) father, and her older brother’s brain tumor.
AGIAHFT is largely about this girl finding her sexuality in a terrifying and confusing way, kind of along the same lines as the whole narrative. I’m not doing a great job describing this book because it’s so scattered and just different, it’s really hard to explain. But it was so good. Heavy, heart-breaking, devastating, and to some extent relatable. Hopefully not a lot of this book is relatable, but the conflicted feelings toward family was on relatable aspect for me.
I think everyone should read this book, but be ready to adjust your expectations of what a narrative is and be ready to cry/feel sick for this girl the whole time.
One a kind of lighter note, the book that I finished today was Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (who was in my hometown recently and did a reading which I missed UGH.) This is the one that sucked me in almost immediately, and so far that I couldn’t write this post until I was done.
Eleanor and Park are the two main characters in this novel, and their love is so perfect and 16-years-old and everything about this book made me smile until it also got really heavy and sad. But before the heaviness, it was about these two perfect misfits and their unlikely love story.
Eleanor is new to the area, and she’s large and red-headed and dresses like a boy. Park is Asian and likes comics and punk rock. Park also has an open space next to him on the bus, and reluctantly, painfully allows Eleanor to sit with him so she can avoid humiliation on her first day. Thus begins their unlikely love.
The book switches back and forth between Eleanor and Park’s perspectives, which I loved, because often they’d be thinking the same cute thoughts about each other, or having the same self-conscious and unnecessary feelings of embarrassment. So yeah, it’s adorable and made much more complicated by Eleanor’s horrible stepfather, who has already kicked her out of the house once before, keeping her away from her mom and siblings for a year.
At the risk of giving some details away, Eleanor’s stepdad figures out about her secret relationship with Park and loses it, forcing Eleanor to leave immediately. And not just leave their neighborhood, but move states. I kept dreading each page after this story development, because it was getting closer and closer to the end and I couldn’t live in a world without Eleanor and Park.
It does end on something of a hopeful note, but more importantly it was realistic, which is even better. This might be a spoiler, but what were those three words on the postcard?! That’s been driving me crazy. I mean, the obvious would be “I love you,” but that just seems so un-Eleanor. Like, she’d say something much less romantic but even better because it’s her.
I’d love to hear other theories on those three words. And if you haven’t read this book, you should. I can’t wait to read more Rainbow Rowell and continue mourning the day I missed her reading. ◊
When we you and I were. Oh no. Young. Is the right word is it for that smell of underarms and my own hair?”
– McBride, A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing, page 176
“You saved my life, she tried to tell him. Not forever, not for good. Probably just temporarily. But you saved my life, and now I’m yours. The me that’s me right now is yours. Always.”
– Rowell, Eleanor & Park, page 310