We read...

To know we are not alone. ~C.S. Lewis~

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Best Thing

The Best Thing by Margo Lanagan
181 pages
Genre: YA
Tone: gritty
Rating: VPI (well not exactly pleasant but interesting enough).

Fav lines: Outside the cicadas cease, like a blanket snatched off us, letting in the silence in.
First Line: I find a condom in my locker, with a jelly baby poked right down the tip.

Synopsis: Mel is a typical 17 year old full of angst, confusion & awkwardness; she’s dealing with some pretty heavy stuff. Her parents are having marriage troubles & she’s burdened with a secret that could make them worse; she’s got bullies throwing stones at her and putting condoms in her school locker; she’s had one miscarriage and may be pregnant again; she’s got Pug but does she love him?

What do I think? There’s nothing like a good first person narrative to get you hooked. Poor Mel struggles to work through all her difficulties in a self-imposed isolation that made me want to hug my daughters and tell them that they are never alone. The structure – narrative broken by technical details of pugilism and obstetrics – I found a bit poncy. If I thought about it for a few minutes I could probably come up with a nice form = theme analysis but I just wanted the story in this book (so I skipped a lot of the ‘interruptions’). It is at 181p a very quick read and everyone who knows me knows I’m a Lanagan-fan, so it wasn’t a stretch for me to like this book.

It’s not like any others that I’ve read of hers. It’s set very much in the real world – places in Sydney that I can picture in my head. I think it would appeal to the YA audience – seems to me Lanagan has captured an authentic voice in Mel. One thing I noticed was how much I rely on my car. Mel doesn’t have access to a car so, being furiously independent she walks everywhere, even when she’s in labour!

I really like the explanation of the title (something I always like to nail down) which is articulated on p 135 and foregrounds the climax of the story beautifully. Read this for a reminder that life goes on with all its ups and downs. No matter how unsurmountable difficulties seem just keep going and you’ll find one ‘thing’ worth living for – the best thing.

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

So what Lanagan are you going to target next?