So, I didn’t read all that much in the month of February…
I only made it through 4 books—1 middle grade novel, 2 adult non-fictions, and 1 adult thriller. I’m not sure what happened, other than that I was occupied by Academy Award Nominated movies, Valentine’s Day, my anniversary, and being really sick. Oh well, at least I enjoyed everything I read, unlike the crap I reviewed in January.
The Imaginary by A.F. Harold
This is a charming middle grade tale about a boy named Rudger who was imagined by a little girl named Amanda. After Amanda hurt and forgets Rudger, the imagined boy meets other imagined creatures who want to help him find a new real friend. Rudger, however, is determined to get Amanda back.
I’ll probably forget about The Imaginary in a few years, but I did enjoy reading it. The pictures are mostly in black and white, but the splashes of color give the book some extra personality. It’s wittiness and whimiscal-realism reminded me of Roald Dahl. And although I wouldn’t say Mr. Harold is even close to Dahl’s level, he can definitely imitate him in a way that should appeal to 21st century kiddos.
I didn’t love Are You My Mother?, which is about Bechdel’s relationship with her overbearing mother. But I’d heard much better things about Fun Home, the story of Bechdel’s coming out shortly before her closeted-homosexual father commits suicide. After its Broadway Musical adaptation won so many awards at the Tonys, I knew I had to check it out. It didn’t disappoint. I’ve loved so many graphic novel memoirs (Maus and Persepolis to name a couple); I consider the genre to be one of my favorites. Fun Home certainly ranks in my top 5 favorite graphic novel memoirs now. Alison Bechdel is so goddamn intelligent it makes me feel unworthy. I’d definitely recommend reading Fun Home before Are You My Mother?, as the later is definitely a companion piece. Fun Home sets the stage for what you need to care about Alison and her family in Are You My Mother?
The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum
I started working on a long review for this book right after I finished reading it. It’s not done yet because there’s sooo much to say. The Girl Next Door is a thriller based on the real life murder of Sylvia Lichens. If you’ve never heard of Sylvia Lichens, before you look up the case I’ll warn you that accounts of her death are some of the most horrifying things you’ll ever read. A lot of people have described this book as like a darker version of The Body (aka Stand By Me). The main character is a 12-year-old boy in late 1950s suburbia who witnesses the abuse of his female friend, by both an adult he trusts and his peers. The boy struggles with how and if he should save his friend without ruining his reputation. Reading this book is a lot like reading something that takes place during the Holocaust. You’re miserable the entire time, but you come away thinking about the psychology behind what makes humans commit horrifying acts of violence. That long review will be posted soon.
Check out my review for this one here. This is a modern-classic self-helpish book written by the psychiatrist who coined the term “Highly Sensitive Person,” which refers to someone who has more intense emotions than average. I’ve known that I’m highly sensitive my entire life, but it wasn’t until I discovered Dr. Aron’s website in my late teens that it occurred to me that being sensitive isn’t solely a negative trait. I had some issues with this book (as explained in my review), but overall I really liked it.