Tuesday, 2 August 2016

July's Book Dowsing

Successful book dowsing in July:



Bridge to Terabithia

Katherine Paterson
1977
Jess Aarons wants to be the fastest boy in the class, but when a girl named Leslie Burke moves into the neighbouring farm his life changes forever. Even though she runs faster than him, Jess begins to think Leslie might be okay - she's clever and funny and not a bit soppy. And it is Leslie who invents Terabithia, the secret country on an island across the creek where he can escape his troublesome family.The only way to reach Terabithia is by rope-swing where Jess and Leslie become King and Queen, defeating giants, sharing stories and dreams, and plotting against their enemies. They are invincible - until tragedy strikes. It is more dreadful than anything Jess had ever dreamed of, but as he struggles to cope with his grief and anger, he finds that his family value him more than he'd thought and that, still King, he could even save Terabithia for the future.

Where did I find it?
The library

Why did I pick it up?

I watched the film a few years ago - it is one of those movies with a trailer that gives an almost entirely false impression of what the story is. I was looking forward to something fantastical and light and instead got a tale of poverty with a tragic incident towards the end. One thing I noticed at the time because it was (and still is) unusual was how there were more female characters than male. When I came across the book in my local library I wanted to how the book from my recollections of the film.

What did I gain from this book?

I really enjoyed this story. It isn't long and took about two days to finish. I knew what was coming and part of me wished I didn't as I picked up the book knowing how things were going to end. The power of imagination in children is something I return to again and again as so much of my own childhood was lived from one fantasy to another. As a child becomes an adult their outside world expands; conversely, their inner world often contracts. The landscape of my childhood daydreaming was never-ending; as an adult I feel it is finite and measurable. That might sound like the tale left me feeling a bit miserable but actually I found the book to be a lovely reminder about the power of a child's mind.



The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole
Sue Townsend
1984
The troubled the life of Adrian Mole continues in this hilarious and touching sequel to The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 133/4. His diary - and his relationship with Pandora - continue to fascinate and entertain.

Where did I find it?

My bookshelf

Why did I pick it up?

I couldn't get in to any of the other books I had on hand at that time and my tatty old copy of this book, read at least a dozen times by myself and also by my siblings and my mum, beckoned me for some reliable reading.

What did I gain from this book?

Nostalgia. I don't know how modern teens would relate to the main character. His life is so devoid of the technology that younger people take for granted and perhaps this would make the text feel old and out of date. The elements of angst, thwarted love and nihilistic rage are no doubt still current for any teenager though.
 


Hardboiled & Hard Luck

Banana Yoshimoto
2005
Hardboiled opens as the narrator treks high above her secluded mountain hotel on the anniversary of her lovers death. Hard Luck opens with another female narrator, this time at the bedside of her sister, who lies in a coma. Exploring the ghosts of love, memory, and intimate secrets, these are two haunting and atmospheric tales from Japan's leading female writer.

Where did I find it?

The library

Why did I pick it up?

I previously listed Hardboiled in another blog post on my list of favourite short stories. Finding it on the shelf at the library I couldn't resist taking it home again. I looked at the list of check out dates at the front of the book and wondered if one of them was mine from years ago.

What did I gain from this book?

A reminder that just like with a favourite film, there are things in books that you don't see on the first reading. The second reading reveals more. The third and the fourth too. I remembered the stones, the part of the Hardboiled which I found so sinister in the first reading. I could barely remember the second story, Hard Luck, at all, so re-reading the book meant that I focussed on it more this time round. Banana Yoshimoto is very good at writing scenes where important connections are made between two people when those people are unlikely to ever meet again. 

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