Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Twist On Mother Love

Stories abound about mothers going over the top with obsessive love for their children. Jack Gantos provides an...intriguing...twist with The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs, a tale of children who go over the top with obsessive love for their mothers.

Young Ivy lives across the street from the elderly Rumbaugh twins, whose apartments are located above their pharmacy. Ivy and her mom hang out with these creepy guys whose hobby is taxidermy. They really, really loved their mom back when she was living. In fact, obsessive mother love is a curse in their family.

So why does Ivy obsessively love her mother, too?

Jack Gantos is a very, very fine writer, and Love Curse is elegantly done. I found myself getting seriously creeped out while reading the book, though, and not in a positive sort of way. I was anxious for Ivy's mother, who was the only character with anything that approached good mental health. And that's not saying much. But I finally realized I should lighten up and enjoy Love Curse as a horror story.

The book's introduction refers to gothic elements, as do some reviews. That was lost on me, since I'm not knowledgeable about gothic literature. (A young woman trapped in a lonely house on the moors, a mysterious guy, maybe some rain...that's gothic to me.) However, if you read the book, do watch for the arrangements the twins and Ivy make with embalmed animals. Those are clever.

Once again, I wonder if this book shouldn't have been directed to an adult audience. I'm not worried about young minds becoming unsettled by the macabre aspects of the tale. I just think that maternal obsession is something adults have more experience with and understanding of.

Besides, by the time most people reach their thirties or forties, they almost certainly know of at least one person who isn't all that different from the Twins.

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