Sunday, September 30, 2007

Kind Of Beige

I was a fan of Cecil Castellucci's first book Boy Proof, even though I found it a bit predictable. I wasn't as fond of one of her 2007 books (she has two this year), Beige, even though I respect what I think Castellucci was trying to do with it.

Beige is a strangely formulaic book with a lesson to teach us readers. The main character, Katy, is your traditional late twentieth century child of divorce who is forced to move in for a while with her noncustodial parent whom she barely knows. She is distraught and determined to get out of there as soon as she can. We've seen this before.

What makes this scenario strangely formulaic is that Katy is quite a straight, even bland "beige" girl who has been uprooted and deposited with her punk rocker dad. Dad is a member of a cult band that never quite made it to the big time but is about to try to make a comeback. He's also a recovering drug addict. Katy, who is nicknamed Beige by the far more colorful Lake, the daughter of one of her dad's bandmates, doesn't get rock music. But over the course of the book she comes to appreciate it, which is the classic way of teaching a reader to appreciate something, too.

What I think Castellucci was trying to do here was write a book about an edgy, out-there scene from the point of view of the least colorful, run-of-the-mill person in it. I like that. I love the average guy. I just had the feeling that Castellucci knew all her other, more exotic characters better. Dad (known as the Rat because of his last name), his mature retro girlfriend, the passionate Lake, and the over eager skateboarder Garth all fired up the page whenever they appeared. These are the characters who would appear as outsiders in many YA novels. It is interesting that in their world, the average girl is the outsider.

But she was just so...beige.

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