Friday, September 26, 2008

Book Review

My sister Amy and I decided we should review every book we read this year. I don't think I've been 100% successful, but I'm still trying. I've been a book peruser lately; I'm reading about 5 right now, and I can't seem to get into any one of them. Plus, I'm rereading my SDBBE book so I can make the necessary notes & comments that make SDBBE so enjoyable.

This is one that I have recently FINISHED.

An Invisible Sign of my Own, by Aimee Bender.

I found this book off another blogger's blog; hi, Special K. I had started Aimee Bender's short story collection, Willfull Creatures, but short stories aren't really my thing. I can appreciate them, but I don't enjoy them on the whole. So when I heard about An Invisible Sign of my Own, I did what I do best: requested it from the library. I love the library but that's an entirely different post..

Invisible Sign is one of those books that you either will like or not like. It starts by telling the story of a town that had found the secret to eternal life. Yay for them, right? Wrong, because there were too many people inhabiting the town, crowding up the streets and alleyways. The solution was for each family to kill off one of their own, a token sacrifice, a hero that would allow the greater good to continue on for those who lived on. The problem was one family who couldn't decide on one, so they cut off random parts of themselves, a leg here, an arm there, an eye somewhere else. Eventually everyone in the town got uncomfortable around this legless, armless, eyeless family and they were forced to move to the next town.

After this cheerful introduction, we are introduced to Mona Grey, who likes to knock on wood, eat soap, and quit things she is good at. Mona is asked to teach math at the elementary school where she is introduced to an intersting bunch of second graders. The second graders love Mona's class, and she begins to love them despite her tendency to sabotage things that make her happy.

I really liked Mona. Sometimes authors who write "quirky" books (sorry for the lame word) just make them that way for the sake of being different and distinct. I read a book like this in college by Samuel Becker named Molloy. The main character sucks on pebbles and describes their taste and texture for page upon page upon page. Dull, dull, pointless reading. If the characters don't grow or learn anyting through the course of the book, I wonder why the author bothered to keep writing.

So, while quirky, I liked that Aimee Bender wrote a book that stepped out of the bounds of typical fiction but still allowed for growth and resolution of the initial problem. Mona learns that you don't have to cut off your leg to acheive happiness, that seemingly random events don't always culminate in the death of loved ones. She learns that she doesn't have to sabotage everything that is good in her life. And that is good fiction.


Amy Sorensen said...

Cool! I totally just put that on hold. It sounds like a book I would like. And, I am with you: quirky just for quirky's sake is frustrating.

I've been meaning to call you all day---just to say hi!---but obviously haven't managed it yet. Now it's nearly midnight and I have two minutes to myself, but I'm thinking that nearly midnight is too late to call. At any rate, I've been thinking of you! Hugs!