Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers...the place to be when you search deep inside yourself and discover that your zawolanie sounds like the rustle of book pages in the morning breeze. ^_^
What's a zawolanie, you ask? Good question...but the answer to that and MUCH more lies within the pages of today's featured title. It's the first in a brand new Young Adult trilogy that's, well....definitely different than most things I've seen and that's merely on the surface. Ready to take a plunge beneath the salty water of the creek to discover the world you know from an unimaginable view? Let's. Today's book of choice is...
About the book...
Everyone in the broken-down town of Chelsea, Massachusetts, has a story too worn to repeat—from the girls who play the pass-out game just to feel like they're somewhere else, to the packs of aimless teenage boys, to the old women from far away who left everything behind. But there’s one story they all still tell: the oldest and saddest but most hopeful story, the one about the girl who will be able to take their twisted world and straighten it out. The girl who will bring the magic.
Could Sophie Swankowski be that girl? With her tangled hair and grubby clothes, her weird habits and her visions of a filthy, swearing mermaid who comes to her when she’s unconscious, Sophie could be the one to uncover the power flowing beneath Chelsea’s potholed streets and sludge-filled rivers, and the one to fight the evil that flows there, too. Sophie might discover her destiny, and maybe even in time to save them all.
This is a hard one to describe, but I'll do my best. Perhaps a break down of the varied aspects of the text would do us both well.
THE GOOD: The story line and mixed characters. The story itself braids threads of ancient myths and lore with today's world full of mixed emotions and environmental neglect. It blurs the line between fact and fiction gracefully, thereby making the impossible seem possible....just don't go poisoning anyone from a salt overdose, kay? *nods* I liked the fact that the "old country" was brought to life in memories and histories, and the power of words both spoken and thought emphasized. Think "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" versus Voldemort. Speaking of characters...
No, old Volde does not play a role in this book (though I wouldn't be surprised if Kishka knew him *-* ...~ahem~), but the cast of friends and foes here is rather unique. EVERYONE has a part to play from the pigeons to the dog, the "best friend" to the neglectful mother, the presumed evil grocery store owner to the tomboy at the dump...they are all there for a reason, with a purpose bigger than themselves and willingly accept the destinies laid before them, even if they are unable to see the full scope of what's to come. Where's a Dola when you need them? (Sorry, book reference joke...^_^) Sophie, our lead, has had a childhood that many wouldn't want while some still would hope to partake of and yet she herself, though not grateful for it, comes to terms with it. It certainly wasn't her fault the way things were...and surprisingly, it wasn't fully her mother's either, something we come to learn as time goes by. No, I shan't be ruining the surprise for you, just rest assured her character's past plays a big part in who she is today (as usual) and will still become (yep, it's not over for her yet...both good times and bad).
THE CONFUSING: Viewpoints. There are many of them (which I can totally handle) and they switch OFTEN (which made it more challenging). Even within the same conversation, one character will lead us there and be speaking and BOOM, you're now seeing things through the other character's eyes, heart and mind. It was disorienting for me and made it hard to get a handle on just who was who and what was what. Once we hit around page 40 or so, I had things sorted for the most part but until then, it was rough seas indeed.
THE CONCLUSION: With characters you'll come to care for and animal friends you wouldn't dream of, this book certainly takes one for the team of "unusual" but bears the term proudly as a zawolanie (oh, that term...it's sorta like a person's individual call to magic) all its own. Sophie's rings loud and clear of purity, an open heart touched by evil but not broken by it, and a fierceness she's only begun to uncover. She'll draw you into her crazy world and remind you how powerful feelings truly are, both those felt within and those tangible to all. The next time you see a friend, coworker, or acquaintance with their head bowed and the light of uncertainty in their eyes...perhaps you'll be more forthcoming in offering your ear in kindness or shoulder in sympathy.
A fantastical tale for those in their mid-teens and beyond; there is drinking, smoking, and a smidge of swearing but the rougher and tumbler aspects is what I'd keep from prying little eyes until their sensibilities about the world around them have settled a bit. After all, life is not all rainbows and sunshine but there's no need to introduce them fictionally to that aspect of reality any sooner than necessary. Take what you will from the creek at Chelsea. For me, I'm storing away a bit of magic, a love of the striking cover, a lot of sorrow, and the hugeness of the possibilities still to come from this amazing group of friends. Book 2 will certainly have a spot on my future reads list.
ARC and final edition for review courtesy of Allie at McSweeney's Publishing. (THANKS!) For more information on this title as well as their complete catalog ranging from magazines and books to t shirts and more, be sure to visit them online, like them on Facebook or follow along on Twitter. This book just celebrated its book birthday yesterday via McSweeney's McMullens, so be on the lookout for it on a bookstore shelf near you.
Until next time...happy reading!