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Monday, August 19, 2013

The Longings of Wayward Girls

The Longings of Wayward Girls by Karen Brown

This book made me uncomfortable for long stretches. The discomfort came from the terrible decisions of some of the characters. I could hardly bear to read about what they were doing, and at the same time, I couldn't bear to put the book down, in the hope that they would come to their senses soon. Whether or not you agree with some of the things Sadie, for example, gets herself into, the masterful writing will make you turn the pages again and again. The novel is crammed with characters, so their development is done with small details that only suggest their full stories. More or less what the author has done is build an entire world full of mystery, and I'm in awe.

The novel's complex layers reiterate the theme of loss or disappearance. People who vanish out of their loved ones' lives for no known reason, people who disappear because they're searching for something they already have, others who run away to escape secret horrors no one would guess at, most who lose something and then lose their way... Everyone in the book is just as haunted as the scary forest presentation, "Haunted Woods," the children put together every summer. Debating the reasons everyone acts they way they do could fill a lively book club session, and makes me think this book is a prime example of the way reading fiction can train readers in empathy.

Aside from all that heavy stuff, this book may help people who grew up in the '70's remember some details of daily life. I'm not the same age as the main character (close), but I was amazed at all the small things the author included to make the readers feel they've really gone back in time. A memorable book for so many reasons.

Tune in tomorrow (or later today, depending on your time zone) for the start of my giveaway of this great title!