Saturday, January 29, 2011

Tender Morsels

This is a book recommendation post, but let me say up front that Tender Morsels will not be for everyone.

Yes, it's a YA fantasy, but it's not light fair at all. It is a novel that disturbingly deals with sexuality, incest and even gang rape. Several times I couldn't not quite believe Margo Lanagan was going where she seemed to be going, but therein lies the strength of this one. It's uncomfortable, but deeply felt, disturbing, challenging.

It's also wonderfully imagined and - though not exactly uplifting - by the end it did leave me with a weary feeling of relief and faith in the goodness of some people within a world a dangers. I'm not aware of having read anything quite like it before, and that's a draw for me as well. Lanagan is a brave writer. I respect that.

Here's what School Library Journal had to say in a Starred Review:

"A traumatized teen mother magically escapes to her own personal heaven in this daring and deeply moving fantasy. The characters, setting, much of the action, and even the very words of the title are taken from the Grimm Brothers' "Snow-White and Rose-Red," a sweet story of contrasting sisters who live deep in the forest and whose innocent hearts are filled with compassion for a lonely bear and an endangered dwarf. In the novel, Liga's daughters—one born of incest, the other of gang rape—first flourish in Liga's safe world. But encounters with magical bears and the crusty dwarf challenge them to see a world beyond their mother's secure dreamscape. Eventually the younger one, Urdda, and subsequently her sister and Liga are drawn back into the real world in which cruelty, hurt, and prejudice abound. But it is also only there that they can experience the range of human emotion, develop deep relationships, and discover who they truly are. The opening chapters vividly portray the emotional experience of a boy's first sexual encounter, mind-numbing abuse by Liga's father, and a violent gang rape. It's heavy fare even for sophisticated readers, but the author hits all the right notes, giving voice to both the joys and terrors that sexual experience can bestow without saying more than readers need to know to be fully with the characters. While the story explores what it means to be human, it is at its heart an incisive exploration of the uses and limitations of dissociation as a coping mechanism. Beautifully written and surprising, this is a novel not to be missed."

If you're up for that give this one a try.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Ron Smith said...

I've seen it in the bookstores and it does look interesting. Maybe I'll pick it up.

H

10:10 PM  
Blogger Lookf4r said...

i'm sold.

12:02 PM  

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