Book Reviews: Marriage Medley

No, there aren’t any stories about marriage in here.  I’m going with the theme: “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”  There’s bound to be “something” in here for everyone.

Something Old: Flour Babies by Anne Fine

This book was originally published in 1992, but I only just discovered it.  Class 4C (basically the remedial science class) is faced with the task of choosing this year’s science project from a list of the most innocuous (boring) experiments possible.  You can’t really blame the school.  Only a fool would trust the misfits of 4C with volatile chemicals, sharp objects, or anything that has the remotest possibility of going boom.    Due to a misunderstanding involving an overheard conversation, Simon Martin convinces his classmates that they will be rewarded with a “gigantic explosion” at the end if they choose the “childhood development” project: flour babies.  For three weeks, each of the boys must care for one 3 kg sack of flour as if it were his own child.  They’re required to keep a diary about their experience — one entry per day, and the babies will be weighed and inspected for damage on a regular basis.  It’s a treat to read about each boy’s experience caring for his own flour baby — the diary entries are hilarious — but Simon Martin develops a particular attachment to his little one and performs his duties with all the zeal of a new, doting parent.  The best part of this book is Simon’s growing understanding of parenthood and watching him ultimately come to terms with his father’s decision to walk out on the family when Simon was just a baby.  It’s a short read (just four hours by audiobook), and an absolute delight.

Something New: Under the Dome by Stephen King

The citizens of Chesters Mill suddenly find themselves sealed in by a mysterious force field that exactly follows the borders of the town.  The interesting thing about this book is that, while there is some non-human creepiness in the form of the dome, it really comes as more of an afterthought.  Finding the source of the force field is a way to end the novel, but not really the main focus of the story.  The real scare factor is watching the town’s descent into panic and despair with the help of some dastardly and stu*** characters — not to mention the dastardly stu*** characters.  I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s his best book, but it’s an enjoyable read for King fans who don’t mind if the supernatural elements usually prevalent in his novels are mostly absent.  I admit I had to put the book down and walk away several times due to an intense urge to shove my fist in the book and punch Big Jim Rennie’s lights out.  What a frustratingly, moronically, manipulative, conniving bad guy.

Something Borrowed: Thor’s Wedding Day by Bruce Coville

I first heard this one a while ago, but it immediately became a favorite of both BratzBasher and me.  Technically, it falls more easily into the category of “old” than “borrowed”, but I’m counting it here because I downloaded it through the library Overdrive program.  Based on an actual tale from Norse mythology, Thor’s Wedding Day is told from the perspective of Thialfi, the mortal boy who tends to Thor’s Goats — the ones that pull the god’s magical chariot.  Yeah, I know, not what you’d expect for such a tough guy, but the goats have some of the best lines.  They can talk, but only to Thialfi because he’s their keeper.  Anyway — moving on… Thor’s hammer is stolen and now rests in the hands of Thrim the Giant, enemy of the gods of Asgard.  With the powerful weapon now in Thrim’s possession, Asgard is in serious danger of falling to the giants.  No need to fear, however, for Loki (the god of trickery) has managed to strike a deal with Thrim.  The giant will return the hammer in exchange for Freya’s hand in marriage.  Freya (the Norse equivalent to Aphrodite) is understandably non-compliant.  Loki suggests that Thor takes Freya’s place since it’s really his problem to fix.  Before you can say “transvestite”, Thor, Loki, Thialfi, and the goats are on their way to a wedding, cleverly disguised as Freya, Freya’s handmaid, and Freya’s servant/goat-tending girl.  The goats are lucky enough to escape punishment by corset.  It’s a good thing giants aren’t very bright.  Much hilarity ensues.  I don’t care if you’ve got kids or not.  You have to read this book.

Something Blue: Push by Sapphire (recently adapted to film and subsequently republished under the title Precious)

The story of 16-year-old Clarisse Precious Jones, who has just been expelled from school upon the discovery of her second pregnancy (by her father), is not for everyone.  The novel is written from the main character’s point of view, and the teenager is sad, sweet, and tragically real.  Ms. Lichtenstein, the school principal, goes out of her way to find a place for Precious at an alternative education project called “Each One Teach One” and thus opens a door beyond which Precious can make a new, better life for herself.  Ms. Rain, the teacher of the pre-GED class (which focuses on learning to read and write — Precious, like too many girls in her situation, is illiterate) features prominently as a mentor, but it’s really Precious that saves herself by taking control of her life and finally coming to terms with and rising above her parents’ abuse, the consequences of that abuse, and her own personal shortcomings.  I particularly admire the way the author addresses the often-overlooked aspect of confusion that plagues the victim of sexual abuse who experiences pleasure in the act despite the evil context.  Warnings for language and graphic depictions of sexual abuse.

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About foo4luv

I'm a married, bum-around-the-house mom with one child, BratzBasher, who is the only thing in the universe cuter than a bunny nose. I enjoy reading, crafts, sewing unusual Halloween costumes, and taking long walks through Jo-Ann. View all posts by foo4luv

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