Elizabeth Scott, Living Dead Girl: This is one of the books that was controversially removed from Bitch Magazine's "Top 100 Young Adult Books for the Feminist Reader." Some of the arguments for its removal were that the book could trigger traumatic flashbacks in abuse survivors and that it was "torture porn." I agree with the first statement, although I also believe that only means that readers need to be made aware of the content of the book before choosing for themselves whether or not to read it. It is the second claim that I find more concerning. Living Dead Girl is narrated by Alice, a young girl who was kidnapped and imprisoned when she was ten years old. As she grows into young womanhood, she is less the object of her captor's desire, and struggles with her impulses to run away, her desire to continue to fit the mold that is required of her and with her mixed feelings about her captor Ray's plan to kidnap again. The depiction of the warped familial relationship and the brainwashing that Ray uses to keep Alice imprisoned made me feel compelled and yet physically ill as I read the book.
I have probably mentioned before on this blog that one of my main areas of interest when I was in graduate school was depictions of violence and trauma in literature. I have read a number of adult novels that address issues of trauma, including childhood trauma. My concern with this book is that is has much in common with those adult novels. Although I don't think it is anymore "torture porn," than Dorothy Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina, I do think that the book is a little exploitative for something that is written for young adults. I'm concerned about the content in light of the audience. This is a powerful story, that answers some of the questions (from one perspective) about why victims of trauma behave in particular ways. However, it is a book that needs discussion, because without it, I am afraid that it leaves the young girls who read it with more questions than answers about abuse and trauma. Without going into it too much, I also believe that the book perpetuates some stereotypes about victims of serious abuse. In that sense I understand the decision to not recommend the book without qualification. Overall: B-
John Green, An Abundance of Katherines: (Audiobook) I like John Green. This wasn't my favorite of his books that I've read, but I still found quite a bit to like. The book is about a kind of nerdy kid, Colin Singleton, who is a child prodigy, and has also dated a whole lot of girls named Katherine (19 to be exact). The summer after he graduates from high school, Colin seems to be having a crisis of identity. Wondering whether he can still be considered a child prodigy when he is no longer a child, and reeling from his most recent break up with a Katherine, Colin takes off on a road trip with his best friend, hoping to find some answers to his questions about life.
Although I didn't find Colin as realistically drawn as some of Green's other male protagonists, I still found him to be a fun and quirky character. As a word lover myself, I found his obsession with anagrams whimsical. The book was funny and I enjoyed the reading on the audio. Overall, a good, fun read. Overall: B+
Gayle Forman, If I Stay: (Audiobook) I had heard a lot of great things about Gayle Forman's book when I decided to pick it up to listen to on a recent trip to Las Vegas. The conceit behind the book is that the narrator, Mia Worley, is in a car accident with her family. She soon realizes after the accident that she is caught in some in-between world, where she must make the choice whether to "stay" or "go." Pretty clever right? The narrative is interspersed with flashbacks to the moments in Mia's life that will help her to make this most important of decisions: moments with her boyfriend, Adam, or with her best friend. Also, the people that are coming to see her in the ICU and the physical condition of her body weigh in as well.
Mia is a believable teenage girl, in a harder to believe situation. I think that the back and forth of the present and the past, make this a very successful book, because we get to see Mia and the characteristics that help her make this difficult decision. It started to drag a little for me at the end; I just wanted her to make the decision already. However, I liked Mia and the other characters enough to be excited about the sequel. Overall: A-
And...Since I bought If I Stay and then decided to listen to a library audiobook, I have a brand spanking new, unread copy to give away. You don't need to be a follower to enter. Just fill out the form below.
I'm going to make this a short giveaway, which will end on the release date of the sequel to If I Stay, Where She Went: April 5th.
This giveaway is now closed. Thanks for entering and look out for the winner announcement soon.