See my previous update here.
For the anthology box, I read When Love Rises by Michelle Stradford. I enjoyed it and gave it a 4-star review. Not 5, since I couldn’t connect that well with some of the poetry at the beginning. Here is my full review on Goodreads, Amazon, etc.:
I especially connected with the later poems in this book where I felt her true soul was laid bare. That painful, powerful imagery resonated with me. Throughout, her poetry contains wonderful metaphors and striking language. A joy to absorb.
I love poetry. I’m trying to get in the mindset to write more myself, but it’s so hard to focus because of the thing.
Next, I read Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, a book I meant to read last year. This book really grabbed me, which is odd because it focuses on topics I normally shun. First, it has a huge emphasis on the mother-child bond, in a kaleidoscope of viewpoints. Second, the story is told from the eyes of teenagers a huge chunk of the time. These days I generally dgaf about the angst of teenagers. You think it’s bad now, kids? Just wait. Third, there’s the familiar trope of boring suburbia, the bad that lurks beneath, and the MPDG who twirls in and shakes everything up.
And yet… the story held me immediately. I needed something exactly like this right now, something so different from what’s happening in the news. Remember when we as a nation were riveted by a stain on a dress? That was the most important thing going on. I find it hard to focus on trivia, but I don’t feel like watching a movie either. I haven’t turned on my TV in days except to exercise to a video (I get the news online).
So anyway. That’s when LFE took place, in the Time of the Blue Dress, around 1997, in a wealthy Ohio suburb. I was riveted by the story; I really wanted to discover what the various characters would do. Their actions seemed surprising at times and yet also inevitable, which I admire in writing. It’s a fine line. You don’t want to be predictable, and yet you want your readers to say… oh, of course. They would have done such a thing. I can totally see it now. And there were so many layers upon layers to each character and the part they played in this drama, that the finished “cake” felt fully earned.
I gave LFE 5 stars despite the fact that Ms. Ng had POV breaks within scenes and lengthy, meandering backstories with POV breaks in those too. That just goes to show you that the story and characters are everything; rules are still important, but they can be broken. I’m not sure why Ms. Ng broke them, but with her credentials you know she knows them. They weren’t mistakes. One critic suggested it’s a cliche to have someone die on an icy road or of a brain tumor. I didn’t cringe when reading them, but I can understand someone not liking those sections.
I can see that same critic’s point about the trope of the MPDG breezing into the small town and turning it upside down while discovering all is not what it seems. I guess there’s also the trope of the naive country bumpkin stumbling into the big city and encountering cynics and meanies. But everything has been done. The key is to bring your own voice and spin. That critic doesn’t believe that Ms. Ng added anything new, but LFE struck me as fresh and engaging.
To each their own! 🙂
Image from Kriti & Ariel.
©️2020 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.