Wednesday, May 14, 2008
The Girl I Wanted To Be, by Sarah Grace McCandless
Presley (named after Elvis) has always idolized her Aunt Betsi, even though Betsi is only a few years older and has more than a few noticeable flaws (alcoholism most noticeably). But in this period coming-of-age novel, Presley comes to realize that the adults around her have much bigger issues than she does. As she witnesses the collapse of her perfect world, she gains appreciation for her own strength.
No one can deny that this is an unusual YA novel, focusing far more on the adults than the kids, and playing around with the narrative to shift the usual dramatic arc (conclusions coming first, timelines rejigged, etc.). The book gets high marks for originality and even for writing. However, I found it to still be a hard book to engage me. The characters did not appeal and I felt like they were keeping me at arm's length. I just didn't care. I realize that that is a particularly personal reaction and others may find this to be absolutely fantastic.