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review 2019-03-19 09:28
Die Krux mit der Ich-Perspektive
The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly - Stephanie Oakes

Stephanie Oakes‘ Debütroman „The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly“ nahm einige Umwege, bis er veröffentlicht wurde. Während ihres Studiums sollte sie Gedichte zu einem Thema ihrer Wahl schreiben. Sie entschied sich für Märchen und stieß bei ihren Recherchen auf „Das Mädchen ohne Hände“. Die grausame Erzählung inspirierte sie, eine Märchenadaption zu schreiben. Zuerst konzipierte sie eine dystopische Version, die von Agent_innen und Verlagen allerdings abgelehnt wurde. Sie musste einsehen, dass ihre Geschichte nicht funktionierte. Die Rahmenbedingungen stimmten nicht: „The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly“ verlangte nach einem realistischen Setting. Sie schrieb das gesamte Manuskript neu. Ihre Protagonistin Minnow, die Maid ohne Hände, wurde das Opfer einer Sekte im modernen Montana und das Buch endlich akzeptiert. Bei mir landete der Roman, weil mich die psychologischen Aspekte von Sekten interessieren.

 

Das Gefängnis macht der 17-jährigen Minnow Bly keine Angst. Angst machen ihr nur die dunklen Visionen ihrer Vergangenheit, besonders diejenigen dieser letzten Nacht. Der Nacht, in der ihr Heim niederbrannte.
Minnow lebte 12 Jahre in einer Sekte. Die Community war ihr Zuhause und alles, was sie kannte. Sie glaubte an die Worte des Propheten Kevin, an seine Erklärungen, an seine Weisheit und an seine strengen Regeln. Bis sie zu zweifeln begann und ihm nicht mehr glaubte. Als sie sich verliebte, erfuhr sie am eigenen Leib, wozu Kevin fähig war – und wozu sie selbst fähig ist. Minnow möchte am liebsten vergessen. Das Feuer. Die Toten. Doch sie muss sich ihren Erinnerungen stellen. Denn um eines Tages in Freiheit leben zu können, muss sie zuerst ihren Geist befreien.

 

Ich bin etwas zwiegespalten. „The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly” ist ein spannender, eindringlicher Young Adult – Thriller, der mich fesselte und einige tiefgründige Themen anspricht, wie Identität, Glaube und freier Wille. Ich fand ihn gut. Aber ich glaube, er hätte noch besser sein können, hätte Stephanie Oakes auf Minnows Ich-Perspektive verzichtet.
Eingangs ist diese Wahl nicht hinderlich. Im Gegenteil. Durch Minnows Augen begreifen die Leser_innen schnell, dass sie sich in einer prekären Lage befindet. Sie hat etwas Schlimmes getan und ist vor etwas noch Schlimmerem davongelaufen. Außerdem offenbart sich bereits auf der ersten Seite Minnows auffälligstes äußerliches Merkmal: ihr wurden beide Hände amputiert. Sie landet in einer Vollzugsanstalt für jugendliche Straftäterinnen. Dort, im Gefängnis, beginnt ihre eigentliche Geschichte, die sie Stück für Stück in Rückblenden aufdröselt. Dadurch entsteht graduell ein bestürzendes Bild des subtilen Horrors der Community. Das Leben der Sektenmitglieder wurde allein vom selbsternannten Propheten Kevin bestimmt; sein Wort war Gesetz. Er befahl ein striktes Patriarchat, Polygamie und einschneidende Regeln, deren Übertretung heftige physische Strafen nach sich zog. Wie in Sekten üblich herrschte Kevin mit Zuckerbrot und Peitsche. Ich hätte jedoch gern erfahren, wie er seine Anhänger_innen ursprünglich von seinen Visionen überzeugen konnte und wie sich die Anfänge der Community gestalteten, denn Minnow erwähnt, dass sadistische Maßregelungen erst später Normalität wurden. Ich hatte mir eine fundierte psychologische Schilderung der komplexen emotionalen Vorgänge in einer Sekte erhofft – doch aus Minnows Ich-Perspektive war das nicht möglich, weil ihr diese nicht bewusst sind. Ich denke darüber hinaus, dass Stephanie Oakes Minnow übertrieben unabhängig charakterisierte, um ihren Leser_innen die Bindung zu erleichtern. Minnows frühe, intuitive Ablehnung der Glaubensgrundsätze der Community erschien mir unwahrscheinlich. Schwer vorstellbar, dass sie sich nach einer Indoktrinierung seit frühester Kindheit als einzige gegen Kevins Gehirnwäsche wehren konnte. Ein realistisches psychologisches Profil hätte allerdings Denk- und Verhaltensmuster involviert, die für die junge Zielgruppe des Romans kaum nachzuvollziehen gewesen wären. Deshalb entschied Oakes vermutlich auch, Minnows persönliche Entwicklung im Gefängnis im Zeitraffer zu zeigen. „The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly“ umspannt etwa ein Jahr – ihr Aufarbeitungsprozess ist demzufolge verkürzt und klammert frustrierende Rückschläge weitgehend aus. Trotz der Vorteile des Settings, das Minnow mit begrenzten, kontrollierten Reizen konfrontiert, und kleinerer Rebellionen fügt sie sich zu nahtlos in ihr Schicksal. Meiner Meinung nach konnte Stephanie Oakes aus Minnows Innenperspektive das Potential ihrer Geschichte nicht völlig ausschöpfen, weil eine realitätsnahe Darstellung ihres emotionalen und psychologischen Zustandes das Mitgefühl ihrer Leser_innen behindert hätte. Minnow sollte eine Heldin sein, kein seelisches Wrack voller hässlicher Abgründe. Hätte Oakes hingegen eine auktoriale Erzählsituation gewählt, hätte sie Minnows Empfindungen durch äußere Faktoren relativieren können. Das hätte selbstverständlich mehr schriftstellerischen Aufwand bedeutet, doch ich bin überzeugt, dass sich dieser gelohnt hätte. Aus einem guten Buch hätte ein großartiges Buch werden können.

 

Ich kann jede Entscheidung, die Stephanie Oakes während des Schreibprozesses von „The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly“ traf, nachvollziehen. Das Young Adult – Genre unterliegt nun einmal gewissen Beschränkungen, die die Autorin berücksichtigen musste. Sympathie für die Figuren ist obligatorisch. Ich verstehe, dass sie dieser keinesfalls im Weg stehen wollte. Ich zolle ihr Achtung dafür, dass sie das heikle Thema des Buches für ihre junge Leserschaft verdaulich gestaltete und sich an einer Märchenadaption in einem realistischen Rahmen versuchte. Daher bin ich von diesem Thriller nicht enttäuscht, obwohl meine Erwartungen nicht gänzlich erfüllt wurden. Ich hätte die Geschichte eben einfach anders aufgezogen. Aber ich bin ja auch nur die Leserin, nicht die Autorin.

Source: wortmagieblog.wordpress.com/2019/03/19/stephanie-oakes-the-sacred-lies-of-minnow-bly
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review 2019-03-13 15:46
Thirteen Reason Why
Thirteen Reasons Why - Jay Asher

This was a reread for me.  I have to admit, I don't do a lot of rereads because there are too many books that I want to read and to stop and do a reread, if just not something I normally do.  When I saw this book last month, in my bookclub's bag, I was pumped!  Finally, a YA book for us to read and also, one of my favorites.

 

I had a feeling that this book would have mixed reviews at bookclub, as we have an older crowd that normally shows up.  Like most bookclubs, there are a few who are very vocal about their opinions and I was hoping we would have some good discussions pertaining to this novel.  Surprise!  Most everyone liked the novel.  There were some questions about the novel and there were some parts that individuals didn't care for but everyone liked it.  We had some great discussions and trips down memory lane, as we chatted about the novel.  

 

 

In our bookclub discussions, we discussed the other characters in the story and their importance.  We talked about the importance of Clay's trip around town and whether that enhanced the story or not.  The question about Hannah's purpose and whether we thought her purpose was successful provoked some interesting conversations.  I thought that Hannah put a lot of trust in Tony, which I thought was interesting considering all the other people she included on her tapes.  What was Hannah real purpose though for making these tapes?  It wasn't as if everyone received their own tape. No, everyone got to listen to the whole story, how they each played a part in Hannah's life. Everyone on the tape heard Hannah's side of the story, but for what purpose? Did she want them to feel guilty/bad/good?  Did she do it to just let them know that they have have this effect on people?  Did she want some action to take place after she was gone?   

 

As I reread this novel, there were parts of the novel that quickly came back to me and others that I saw in a new light.   The novel still impressed upon me the magnitude an individual can have upon another human being, whether positive or negative.  Whether it be for a few minutes or longer, its how we treat one another that makes a difference. 

 

Discussing this novel in bookclub, I rediscovered this novel all over again. 

 

Used this novel for Snakes and Ladders - square 39: A reread - finally a book that fits the square!

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review 2019-03-02 00:08
Phenomenally gripping narrative
The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield

For those who love an engrossing family drama steeped in mystery I have just the book for you: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I guarantee you'll be hooked by the third page (or perhaps even earlier). I had barely gotten a third of the way through before I was checking to see what else Setterfield had written and if I could get my grubby mitts on it. (She just released a book in December called Once Upon a River and I'm already on the library's holds list for it.)

 

When I was writing notes about this book after reading it I realized that I was basically regurgitating the plot because I had no idea how to sum up my feelings without divulging loads of spoilers. I'm still not entirely sure how to do it so I'll try to be as basic as I can be here. The story opens with a bookseller named Margaret Lea who upon returning to her flat finds a letter from an acclaimed author named Vida Winter. Despite being very well-read and what most would consider a true bookworm this is one author that she has never paid much mind to despite her abundance of novels and literary renown. This is rather awkward as it seems the esteemed lady wants Margaret to write her biography. There follows a meeting between the two women where Ms. Winter's true identity is revealed (no mean feat in itself as she's been dodging the truth for years with interviewers). We are then treated to some of the most amazing writing I've read in quite some time as Setterfield begins to weave a story that pulled me in hook, line, and sinker. Make no mistake, Margaret is simply the vehicle through which we are treated to the story of Vida Winter but without Margaret this book wouldn't be the well-rounded thing of beauty that it is (but it would probably still be pretty great).

 

The book is touted as a mystery because the reader is alongside Margaret as the story of Ms. Winter's life is slowly and inexorably revealed and she finds herself having to hold her tongue as the flow of questions becomes almost too much to bear. Who exactly is this woman? What kind of connection do twins have and can one live without the other? By hearing Vida's story will it irrevocably change the course of Margaret's life? You have to read The Thirteenth Tale to find out (or to come up with even more questions). This is one that you don't want to miss, guys. 10/10

 

**SPOILER ALERT** If allusions (subtle and not so subtle) of incest are too much for you to handle then you'd better give this one a miss and maybe take a look at one of her other books because Diane's writing is excellent.**SPOILER ALERT**

(spoiler show)

 

What's Up Next: I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

 

What I'm Currently Notes From a Small Island by Bill Bryson

 

**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2019-02-25 01:12
The Midnight Club by Christopher Pike
The Midnight Club - Christopher Pike

Rotterham Home is a hospice for teens with a variety of terminal illnesses. One small group, consisting of Ilonka, Anya, Sandra, Kevin, and Spence, gets together every night at midnight to tell stories. Spence's stories always feature some form of mass murder, Anya's story has more of a supernatural bent, Kevin's is a multi-part story about an angel who becomes a mortal out of love for a young woman. Ilonka, meanwhile, always tells stories based on her memories of her past lives. Although she says she's never met anyone in this life that she's known in her past lives, that's a lie - she recognizes Kevin as someone she's met and loved in all or most of her past lives. Unfortunately, Kevin is currently dating a pretty and healthy cheerleader.

Almost every member of the group has a secret gnawing at them, something they must deal with as best they can in the little time they have.

I had forgotten how much mysticism was in some of Christopher Pike's books. This particular one had a LOT. Ilonka had repeated dreams of sitting at the feet of some guy she called the Master, who philosophized at her and tried to get her to stop looking at the past or longing for the future and instead focus on the present. Weirdly, her reincarnations resulted in her being both the Master's mother and his first disciple. The two past lives readers got to see the most of took place in ancient India and ancient Egypt (sort of). Then there was Kevin's angel main character, Sandra's evangelical upbringing, and lots of mentions of God.

Speaking of Sandra, evangelical readers would probably be annoyed by this book, since she comes across as the least likeable and most hypocritical character. Oddly, she was also the only character to find Spence's stories disturbing. Considering Pike's usual inclusion of murder and/or horror in his books, I initially thought Spence's stories were going to lead up to some kind of murder mystery, but that wasn't exactly the case. (There was a tiny bit of mystery, but it was more of a minor detail than anything.)

I'm not really sure what else to say about this. The one bit where Ilonka had a bunch of magic-filled dreams of past lives was weird, and the far-future ending felt weak and tacked on. This was a bit of an "issue" book, dealing directly with subjects like teenage sexuality,

homosexuality, and AIDS

(spoiler show)

, in addition to the more obvious issues of death, serious illness, and mortality. (And yes,

the gay kid dies, but so does everyone else. The things he said to Ilonka would probably seem dated in some areas but would unfortunately probably still ring true in others, particularly rural areas. Considering the promise Ilonka made to him, it bugged me that, as far as I could tell, he didn't get a happy cameo at the end.)

(spoiler show)


All in all, this wasn't the book I expected it to be and wasn't one of my better Pike rereads, but it wasn't bad. Just don't let the cover trick you into thinking it's horror, or you'll be terribly disappointed.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2019-01-19 02:45
My cat kept interrupting this post
My Side of the Mountain - Jean Craighead George

I really needed a win after starting (and giving up on) 3 separate books so when I picked up My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George I felt pretty confident considering it was a Newberry Honor winner. The introduction made me laugh because it was all about the author's experience running away from home and coming back very shortly afterward. (I was gone such a short amount of time when I was a kid that my mom didn't even know that I'd left.) This book gave me strong Hatchet vibes from the outset. Our main character, Sam Gribley, doesn't so much as run away as inform his family that he is going to leave and live off the ancestral family land in the Catskills. Like most parents, they think he's bluffing and that he'll be back shortly...but he doesn't come back. He actually makes it to the Catskills and proceeds to become self-sufficient. He learns how to strike flint for fire, smoke out a tree to make a warm home, train a falcon to hunt wild game, sew a deerskin outfit, and develop varied (and tasty) recipes. This is a story of survival, independence, and the beauty of nature. It turned out to be exactly what I needed to get past the duds I'd recently picked. If you (or a reader in your life) enjoy fast paced adventure stories that are heavily descriptive (with intermittent pencil illustrations) My Side of the Mountain is for you. 8/10

 

What's Up Next: Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye by Tania del Rio & Will Staehle

 

What I'm Currently Reading: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (reread) and The Library Book by Susan Orlean

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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