Sunday, September 01, 2019
Saving Red, by Sonya Sones
Molly becomes obsessed with helping her, but Red is distrustful and rejects Molly's advances. As the story unfolds, it soon becomes clear that Molly is just as in need of help. She may have a physical structure over her head, but she is nearly as abandoned by her absent parents, her family torn apart by a tragedy. The relationship, remaining tentative and never entirely trusting, becomes mutually respectful.
The ultimate resolution of this story-in-verse is both an affirmation of life and a sobering reminder that problems like mental illness and homelessness are not easily solved. Sones takes advantage of the ambiguity of verse to let questions that are unanswerable stay unanswered, while leaving us with hope. Molly and Red are both compelling characters and their relationship complex and subtly interdependent, as the savior becomes the saved. A romantic subplot involving a boy that Molly meets early in the novel is probably the major weak point -- a distraction in a story that didn't need a pretty boy in it -- but Sones always does romance so sweetly that it's hard to begrudge her a few pages of love poetry. This is certainly not Sones's best work, but it is still a decent read and a good use of verse in a novel.