More on Damages

I am moving on – any time now.  Leaving Paradise and Looking for JJ are the last two for a while.  I need to move on.  Especially since they have been sort of going down hill, which isn’t to say I didn’t like them but you know after Right Behind You and Such a Pretty Girl they didn’t, you know, blow me away.

In Leaving Paradise, Maggie is physically as well as emotionally damaged after being hit by a drunk driver, and left by the side of the road.  Caleb, has his own emotional scars – he is the drunk driver, recently released from prison and returning to Paradise.  Which of course it isn’t – Paradise I mean.  Caleb’s sister used to be Maggie’s best friend but she has embraced her dark side, and his mother is insistent on appearances mattering.  All Maggie wants to do is leave.  But through a coincidence Maggie and Caleb come together, help each other heal, and expose secrets.  In the end Maggie is probably in better shape than Caleb, but both of their scars are healing.   This was compelling but at some point there was just too much going on, it was a little overwhelming.  Also I wasn’t all that fond of Maggie at first, and Caleb in the end.

Looking for JJ is a similar plot to Right Behind You.  When she was 10 (?, or 11, or 12 I don’t have the book in front of me and it has been a while.)Jennifer murdered her friend, now she has been released and is trying to live a “normal life” as Alice, one she isn’t sure she should be living.  Looking  for JJ isn’t as compelling as RBY, and is probably the last of the damaged for a while.  I’m not sure why – it has received accolades but it felt more like a chore .



I’ve been reading about damaged people a lot lately. After I finished Right Behind You I picked up Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess, and then it was This is What I Did by Ann Dee Ellis, and finally I read Feels Like Home by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo. Of the three I enjoyed Such a Pretty Girl the most.

Meredith has had 3 years of the promised 9 years of safety when her father is released from jail. Dear old dad is an equal opportunist pedophile. More horrifying is a mother who absolutely refuses to acknowledge the truth or protect Meredith. Really horrible evil woman – and honestly no more than a child herself. It is bad enough that Meredith has been living in a town that knows her father as a pedophile, surrounded by his other victims but her mother doesn’t acknowledge Meredith as a victim. And Dad is bad, he is an utter creep. But now he is home, and Meredith knows it is only a matter of time. Meredith may be such a pretty girl, but she is damaged, and you feel it to the core. Still, turns out she is a survivor and that means something.

Speaking of damaged Logan, of This is What I Did, gives Meredith a run for her money. He is bullied, alone, and absolutely unable to share/talk about why. Unlike Meredith whose rage is occasionally turned on someone else, Logan’s is all internalized. He hates himself, is consumed with guilt for what he did. The rumors he is forced to live with, that he refuses to answer, all contribute to his self-hatred. There are some interesting formatting choices in this novel – sort of Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. In fact this book reminded me of that one, something about my inability to connect with the narrator, the visual icons separating sections, the tone. Yet it is a very different book.

And to round out the damage in Feels Like Home there is Mickey who has a whole set of abandonment issues that she fights back against. Her mother left, after an accident her brother disappeared, and when her father dies it all just sort of comes to a head. Her brother has returned, but she knows he will bail on her again because “Nothing gold can stay” and running away is what he does best. But even Ponyboy has to grow up, and that often doesn’t mean what we think it means. The Outsiders is a common thread in this book, and frankly it helps to have read that story, which I have mixed feelings about. Is The Outsiders still relevant? Its taken a while to post because I just haven’t been sure about this book. Can’t decide how I feel, so I am just going to say that I am Charlie Brown on this one – wishy-washy.

Right Behind You

It has been so long since I have posted because nothing I was reading really spun my needle.  I have been in a slump – reading because I should but preferring to couch potato it and surfing cop procedurals (I know – how bad it has been?) but then . . .  ok first off – Gail Giles rocks.  I have unabashed enthusiasm for her books.  So yesterday this one came in the mail (3 new boxes – yippee!) and I thought well, I’ll start with Right Behind You.  Oh my freakin’ god!  (sorry, lord’s name in vain and all that but it had to be said.)  I could hardly put it down last night, and it was just sitting on my desk tempting me, calling my name, so I gave in finally and started reading and I JUST! COULD! NOT! STOP!.  And here is the thing – waiting for the twist ending and it didn’t come but it was such a subtle release that I got all teary eyed and just wanted to share this book.  I have to talk about it.  Now.  With someone.

Basic story line: when he was 9 Kip burned a 7 year old who died.  He spent four years in a mental ward, before being released.  How do you live your life when you are a child murderer?  How do you forgive yourself?  Do you?

Funny, and sad, and you know what, you’ll feel good when its done and how is that possible??????

And the best part I am going to go find something else to read right now – I am not going to catalog books, or work on my presentation, and will try not be annoyed when I have to help kids (actually I won’t be but no teachers better interrupt me to talk about technology. ), and I am going to call it work.