Tuesday, October 29, 2013

37 Things I Love, by Kekla Magoon

Two years ago, Ellis's father was injured on the job and fell into a coma.  He's never woken up.  Every day, when Ellis isn't visiting him to vent her life's frustrations, she's fighting with her mother about whether they should turn off his life support.  Mom believes it is time to let go, but Ellis can't accept that and she fights bitterly to keep the machines going.  In thirty-seven brief chapters, Ellis tells us about the things she loves and simultaneously about the last week of her sophomore year, when everything changes and she has to confront the decisions she has made and to reevaluate her friendships and loyalties.

A brief, but ultimately satisfying story about relationships and letting go.  Magoon focuses her attentions on her heroine and gives us a well-developed emotional landscape, but one where everything (and everyone) else is incidental.  Ellis herself is engaging and interesting enough to get the reader hooked. However, given the brevity of the story, it is inevitable that the other characters get shortchanged.  From the friends and family to a host of throwaway supporting characters (the neighbor, the counselor, etc.), there is really only space for Ellis here. This works well in this case and the novel is successful in its modest ambitions.

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