Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Stop Pretending, by Sonya Sones

Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy is Sones's first book and her most autobiographical, tracing the story of what she went through when her older sister had a nervous breakdown and had to be hospitalized. Sones's style (free verse poems that run a page or two) can be a bit precious at times, but it worked well in her latter books: What My Mother Doesn't Know and One of Those Horrible Books Where the Mother Dies. In those books, the verse was often witty and individual poems stood on their own.

In this book, it is a bit thin and the poems seem largely based on what a much younger Sones might have written. Authentic, but juvenile and a bit thin.

The problem with here is that there is so much detachment. The character falls in love, but the observations are largely stereotypical and superficial. So in the end, you really don't feel much. Occasional pangs arise over the pain of a family trying to cope and a young woman having to decide what to tell her friends, but this just doesn't reach.

Thankfully, Sones gets a lot better in her latter books.

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