December 22, 2012

The Canon: Walk Two Moons

Walk Two Moons probably should have been the first book I posted about, but here we are. Posting now.

Walk Two Moons is the story of Salamanca Tree Hiddle, a girl who misses her mother very much.

The book is about other things too. Eccentric grandparents, kissing trees, Phoebe Winterbottom and her mother's disappearance and a mysterious lunatic. But whenever I read this book I am utterly consumed by Sal and her overwhelming loneliness.

In many ways this book should have been the book of my childhood, and it's clear that much of my connection with this book has to do with personal association. Besides being an excellent exercise in storytelling, Walk Two Moons has perhaps the best portrayal of dead-parent-grief that I've ever read.

There's an exclusive club made up of children who lose a parent, and anyone who is not in that club has no idea. None whatsoever. But when I was reading Walk Two Moons for the first (and fifth, and twentieth) time, what came to mind first was a sense of wonder. How did she know? How did she get it that right? I don't know if Sharon Creech is a member of that club, but if she isn't, she must be a mind reader.

Generally speaking, I frown upon "issue" books. Books that well-intentioned but clueless adults ask for in the bookstore: "She's just lost her father, poor thing. Do you have a book about that?" As if there's a book that could possibly encompass what that child is feeling. But if there does exist, somewhere in the world, a book that could contain all that and more, Walk Two Moons is it.

This is not to say that Walk Two Moons is an exceptionally sad or depressing book. (Although, spoiler: I cried. I cry every time I read it.) This just not just another dead parent story. It's about life, and growing up, and the experience of being thirteen and kissing a boy for the first time, and moving, and friendship...and yes, it is about a dead parent. And in this aspect, at least, it is perfect.

Walk Two Moons is widely loved and beloved, and deservedly so. My copy is dog-eared and well-worn, and will be staying in my library forever. Highly, highly recommended for fans of realistic fiction, coming-of-age, road trips, and twisty plots. Also recommended for every human, everywhere.

December 20, 2012

One Semester Down, Three to Go

I'm sitting here at the end of the semester (everything all well and done, thank goodness), trying to think of what to write about that could possibly encompass everything that has happened in the last four months, and mostly all I can think is that I am so, so blessed. By whom? I suppose I'd just say life. I am blessed by life--to have been granted this opportunity, to find a place where I feel like I am exactly--exactly!--where I belong.

I'll just say it here: graduate school is awesome. I am one semester in, and my brain has learned to twist itself into new and different configurations. I have amazing friends. I have a job where I get to foist my favorite books on people every single day. Everything is great, and while I wouldn't recommend an MFA to everyone, I am quite certain that this is the right path for me.

So. Now that I've turned in all my papers, I have just under a month to remember what I used to do when I wasn't in school. I'm hoping to blog some more (there are several books I've been waiting impatiently to review), and write some more, and read some more...

December 5, 2012

Finals Madness, Post-NaNo, etc.

So I thought I was going to do a big NaNo recap and start blogging again and write up all those book reviews I've been thinking about writing...

...and then finals hit me. Apparently there are THINGS to be done in graduate school, and they involve something more than making up critical theorist Ryan Gosling memes on Facebook. I have six final papers due in the next twelve days. The math says that I will be reading/writing/thinking like a madman for the next two(ish) weeks. So the dusting-off-of-the-blog will have to wait.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with these:

1. NaNo: I "won," if by winning you mean writing 50,000 words, split semi-evenly across two stories. While it's a far cry from the 100,000 I was aiming for, I think we'd all agree that 50,000 is impressive in between work and school and figuring out how to handle impromptu snowstorms. The good news is that I now have two viable projects that I would actually consider developing further. I consider that a success.

2. So far I honestly haven't been that impressed by the new fall TV...unless you count Stephen Arnell's ridiculous abs on Arrow. Also, NASHVILLE. You guys should all go watch it right now because I will not be able to accept its cancellation. Favorite returning show? Definitely The Good Wife, although the whole Kalinda/Nick storyline was getting old. It's a good thing they seem to have wrapped that up (for the time being)... I'm also a huge fan of how the Beckett/Castle storyline is playing out in Castle. They haven't screwed it up yet! Color me thrilled!

3. Literary podcasts: My latest interest is Literary Disco, which I heard about through the excellent Ann and Michael at Books on the Nightstand. I've really enjoyed a number of their shows, although I do get bugged from time to time by the fact that they're sometimes slightly literary-snobbish (by which I mean they tend to be snooty about YA). But if you're into general fiction, it's a good show to check out.

Happy December, guys. Hopefully I will join you once again after the semester has ended, provided it hasn't chewed me up beyond all repair. Now, please excuse me while I bury my head in more literary criticism.