Sixteen-year-old Sophie is used to her mother's ups and downs. When she's up, she's vibrant and giddy. She's spontaneous, loves ice cream for breakfast, works tirelessly on her art, throws her cares to the wind.
When she's down, she barely speaks. She barely has the energy to move, let alone get out of bed.
Sophie has been taking care of things since she was eleven years old. Making sure her mother takes her meds, that she eats regularly, that the bills get paid, that her mother's social worker doesn't see any red flags.
One day, she comes home to find that her mother has attempted suicide. She calls 911, her mother is rushed to the hospital, and Sophie goes to live with her extended family for the duration.
Her ESTRANGED extended family.
Everything. I'm not being lazy! I really loved it, full stop. It's a sensitive, empathetic look at how bipolar disorder can affect a family; about the realities of living with depression; about how sometimes people cause more damage by trying to protect one another than by just being honest. It's about how a lack of communication and a difficulty in asking for help can make a hard situation that much harder; about misunderstandings, isolation, and about that moment of catharsis that comes when feelings that have been hidden for far too long are finally verbalized. It's about abandonment, and about how abandonment by a friend can just as painful as abandonment by family. It's about how you can intellectually understand why a person acts the way she does, but still get frustrated and angry, and about the guilt that comes out of that.
I've got nothing. It's a solid read across the board.
It made me cry, but in a good way. If you like contemporaries that deal with meaty issues without being trite, didactic, or manipulative, here you go. I've added Sara Polsky to my list of Must Read Authors.
I was literally playing Dungeons and Dragons with Judi Dench and Karl Urban at nights after shooting. I will tell you that I was showing her Dungeons and Dragons books and showing her the different properties of Elementals.
Picturing that scene is just so adorable that I can't even.
Speaking of Karl Urban, WHAT THE HELL, FOX, WHY WON'T YOU JUST RENEW ALMOST HUMAN ALREADY??
Since I was super-popular in high school*, I spent a lot of time hanging out at the Maine State Library.
I did a lot of browsing and reading and so on, but because of this story—which broke when I was a freshman—I also spent a good amount of time just staring at the ceiling:
In the fall of 1991, employees at the Maine State Library in Augusta wondered if there was a ghost among the aisles. Odd things, like flashlights, extension cords, and food from the break room refrigerator (mainly pudding cups), were disappearing on a daily basis. At first, security thought the culprits could be some of the workers hired to remove asbestos from the building. But their suspicions changed when, overnight, two refrigerators and a candy machine were nearly cleaned out, and a handwritten note of apology was left behind. As the thefts continued without any signs of a break-in, it became clear that someone was living in the library.
It’s hard not to wonder why some of the largest voices in the YA world and kid lit world more broadly aren’t speaking up and out in visible ways. They have far less at stake than any author of color (and most women, white or not) would have doing the same thing, in part because their privileged position affords them them their platform. They do not succeed simply because they work harder; they have more advantages. This isn’t just pointed at authors with power. It’s pointed equally toward librarians, toward booksellers, toward major media outlets, and to anyone with a position to say something.
There’s no expectation for anyone to talk about everything. That would be impossible. But in a week where an announcement of an all-male, all-white panel coincides with a wealth of well-written, thought-provoking, and important conversations about diversity and there’s nothing but silence?
Bedlam Hospital has a disturbing problem: every night, at precisely Twelve Minutes to Midnight, the inmates begin feverishly writing gibberish—on paper, on the walls, on themselves; in pencil, in ink, in blood. In the morning, none of the inmates have any memory of their actions, and every night, the madness spreads further. Having exhausted every medical avenue*, the authorities turn to Montgomery Flinch, an author who has recently taken England by storm with his macabre tales of terror published in the Penny Dreadful.
Little do they know, Montgomery Flinch doesn't exist. The stories are actually written by thirteen-year-old Penelope Treadwell, the orphaned heiress who owns the Penny Dreadful.
But Penelope isn't going to let a trifling detail like THAT prevent her from investigating...
Loads of atmosphere, action, and tense moments.
Details like the secret door leading to the SPOILER, and the mysterious, beautiful widow are nice nods to the genre and suggest a real affection for it.
Edge doesn't condescend to his audience: he doesn't over-explain plot points, and he never actually spills the beans about the specific events the prisoners are writing about. Deciphering those texts isn't necessary to enjoy the story, but they'll make a nice Easter Egg for any readers with a basic knowledge of twentieth-century history.
I got the impression that Edge was shooting for Late Nineteenth-Century Verbose and Flowery, but there's a distinct lack of rhythm in the prose. For example: "Behind him, Alfie failed to hide the smirk on his face as he took a sip from one of Monty's discarded glasses before grimacing in sudden disgust." In other words, much of the book feels like one big run-on sentence.
There's nothing in the way of character arc or growth: at the end of the story, the main characters are exactly who they were at the beginning. (I suppose that could be chalked up as a nod to the conventions of the genre, but as always, I don't like that as an argument, as it suggests that genre fiction is somehow 'lesser' than 'literary' fiction. Anyway.)
For a smart girl, Penelope is amazingly slow to put two and two together. Also, three-quarters of the way in, a plot point requires her to suddenly possess Crazy Science Skills which she explains away by saying that she's 'always' had a strong interest in science. It was so out of left field that I wrote NANCY DREW MOMENT in my notes.
Nutshell: Plenty of atmosphere and action, but no character development or emotional depth.
*I think? Hopefully this wasn't their first choice of solution?
Moonbot Studios announced today that it will acquire film rights to the Olivia Kidney trilogyof young adult books by award-winning author Ellen Potter. The series is published by Philomel (a division of Penguin/Putnam).Moonbot plans to develop Olivia’s Alice in Wonderland-like adventures as a live action film with significant animation sequences. The film rights deal was handled by David Lipman and Michael Siegel for Moonbot and for Ellen Potter by Alice Tasman and Jennifer Weltz of Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency.
If the movie happens, hopefully the books will finally get the attention that they deserve. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!