Saturday, June 07, 2014
Book 1. "Life Is Fine" By Allison Whittenberg
I always like to have a theme for 48HBCs, and this year I accepted the official 48HBC theme as my own. Diversity. I haven't done any reading of the many, many things that have been written on the subject these past couple of months. When selecting my books, I didn't even use any book lists. I had a chance to hit a couple of libraries this past month and for the most part just picked up whatever I found that seemed to fit the bill.
Life is Fine by Allison Whittenberg (who needs a website) was an interesting read for me because I picked it up nearly a month ago. By the time I started reading it today, I no longer remembered what it was about. I like when that happens.
I want to get one thing straight right away. I liked this book. I think one could make an argument that there were a lot of cliched problem novel elements in this thing--neglected child with a single mom who needs men in her life, illness and the specter of death turns up, literature changes lives--and, yet, I liked it. I think main character Samara has a little bit of attitude that shows up not so much in her first-person narration but in her interactions with people. I liked very much the way race was handled here. There are no characters wearing metaphorical signs saying "I'm the African American character!" "I'm the Puerto Rican character!" Yet they are there. Now this may be why you want to see books by ethnic writers. They may be able to create ethnic characters who just are.
Now, after all this, I will tell you the really neat thing about this book. Teenage Samara falls for her substitute teacher--who is seventy, if he's a day. I would have loved to have seen a lot more about that.
I definitely would be interested in reading more of Whittenberg's work.