Sunday, September 04, 2016
The Last Boy and Girl in the World, by Siobhan Vivian
There is a tension between the tragic story of a town being literally consumed by greed and the elements and Keeley's seemingly vain search for love. At first I (like many other readers apparently) really wanted to read the seemingly more important story of a town's survival. The counter story about Keeley and her romantic feelings for a special guy seemed distracting and irrelevant. But about halfway through the story, the heavy rain showers, abandoned buildings, and relocation traumas truly become less significant when compared to the human drama which is playing out. Based on the other reviews I have read, this is the point when many readers turn to hating the novel, but I was surprised to find that it actually became far more interesting to me. After all, what could be more interesting than the massive destruction of property? Maybe the way that hearts can be betrayed by those we love and by our own best-intentioned acts.
The novel ends a tragedy, but one from which the characters will rebuild themselves. And it is the seeds of hope at the ending which make this moving story worth the read. Everything else is just window dressing. After all, if you want to experience the trauma of a town being flooded to make a lake, look at Dorothea Lange's Death of a Valley. But if you want to read a story about a young woman who fights with all of her heart for what she feels is right, makes terrible misjudgements and pays steeply for them (and yet comes back stronger and wiser), read this book!