Tuesday, February 8, 2011

All About Lulu by Jonathan Evison

So, I don't recommend this book.  The language, subject matter and actions of the characters are not what I would recommend to my friends!  But even if those things had been cut, or handled more delicately, I'm not sure I would have liked this book very much.

Will is a tragic character.  His mom dies when he was 10, and his brothers and Dad are meat-loving body builders.  He doesn't fit in, and literally stops growing when he loses his mom.  "I was living inside of myself; that is, my world was inside out.  I had senses, but they were all on the inside.  The sense that something was missing.  The sense that this missing thing would elude me forever..." It is so sad.  Then his dad remarries an old sweetheart, who is also a grief councilor.  Along with her comes a step-sister that Will falls in love with.  "...allowing this miracle of a girl to tickle the edge of my despair simply by listening to the sound of my voice, and something opened in my chest and tingled like a frostbitten had regaining its warmth." They become best friends, he keeps notebooks filled of his memories of her, and a few other weird obsessive things happen.  You are happy for Will because he is happy.  Of course that is all mysteriously shattered when Lulu goes away for the summer and something happens.  Next there are these painful years where she ignores him.  Then as young adults they have a few intense emotional scenes together.  It goes up and down and up and down.  Not until the VERY end is the big secret revealed to Will and the reader (although I was pretty sure what the deal was about half way through.)  For me it went on too long.  I couldn't help but think that in real life it would have been talked about sooner.  BUT the ending is done well.

There are somethings I liked alot about this book:

1) I think Evison has a nice way with words.  They are clever without being too over the top.  I liked the style of his writing.

2) I liked the way the family sticks together and in the end there are two great scenes of reconciliation.  First with his younger brothers, and second, with his father.  Both are really beautiful.  Really.  There is this time when Will looks back at awkward family dinners and realizes how much he misses them, and how they held the family together. 

3) There is some good dialouge about whether people can or do change.  Some of this is trite, but it's a theme I think about a lot.  I think there are some good ideas expressed by the characters, and more good ideas shown through their actions. 

4) Like any true coming-of-age novel, Will grows up.  Most of the supporting characters go through some type of life-altering change.

But sadly, for me, the cons out weighed the pros.

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