the shape of water

The difficulty with reading the shape of water is that I read it second – so it is hard to write about with out the comparison in my head.

In the shape of water Magda is adjusting to the loss of her mother who has died.  Life is moving on around her – her best friend has switched schools, her father is dating, and something she cannot quite name is happening with her aunt.  Magda is trying to find her place in the world, which she perceives as having been divided by a four lane boulevard, and she lives on the dark side where life is messy, and imperfect, and not forever.


It was hard at first to classify this book, what with the fish in her head talking to her.  There is an element of magical realism, but in truth the reader and Magda are always aware that the fish among other things are happening in her head.  It also becomes fairly apparent that there is a larger metaphor at work, her brain trying to adjust to and work out the truth about her mother’s “accident”.

The woman her father starts dating is frankly some kinds of awful.  I think she is trying, and she may have a good heart, but her denial is a mile wide and deep, and her handling of getting to know Magda is god awful.  And her son?????   Holy bejeezus!  And that is all I have to say about that!

This is a “quiet” book.  Magda is trying to deal with loss and grief in family that has no vocabulary for what that loss is.  Anne Spollen is a beautifully descriptive writer.  Magda’s ability to live in her head gives Spollen an opportunity to exercise that talent.

In a few days I will past a decision between this and Cracked Up to Be.


Cracked Up to Be

Initial impressions – Sooo glad for this tournamentThis is the kind of book I would have read if I found it on my own.

Great hook: Imagine four years.  Four years, two suicides, one death, one rape, two pregnancies (one abortion), three overdoses, countless drunken antics, pantsings, spilled food, theft, fights, broken limbs, turf wars – every day, a turf war – six months until graduation and no one gets a medal when they get out.  But everything you do here counts.

Plot:  Good girl, queen of the school, perfect Parker Fadley has gone off the deep end.  Coming to school drunk is only one of her recent crimes.  Now she must show up to classes sober, pass them all, and meet with her counselor once a week to avoid getting kicked out of school.  That is much easier said than done since all Parker wants is to be alone – of course that is also easier said than done.  Especially with the new kid Jake so obviously interested in her.


  • I was worried that whatever the precipitating event that led to Parker’s change in behavior wouldn’t hold up to the extremes of her isolation.  The good news is – it did.  The bad news – it became apparent what it was probably before it should have.
  • Parker is predictably difficult to like, to give her credit she knows that and embraces it.
  • The novel was compelling, I wanted to read, didn’t want to put it down.  In some ways it is plot driven – what is Parker’s secret?  What really happened?  It moves you through the novel.

Nerds Heart YA

Yesterday was the opening of the Nerds Heart YA book tournament. A while ago Renay at YA Fabulous conceived of a tournament in which the competing books (?) would be those under appreciated books of the previous years. And so it began . . .

Here is the bracket:

You’ll see I am in the first round judging Cracked up to Be against The Shape of Water.

Here are links to the other judges:

I’ve read the books, now must re-read to make a decision – lets just say it isn’t going to be easy.  Check back for reviews of both and my choice.