Layers

9 Oct

Three recent books have me thinking about how authors peel back the layers of a story.

In The Fever by Megan Abbott, a mysterious epidemic is ravaging the teenage girls of a small town high school.

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The premise sounds a lot lie Contagion,  which I reviewed a few weeks ago. In this story, however, we have three people narrating the story: Deenie, a high school girl whose friends have been affected; Eli, her brother and high school hockey star; and their dad, Tom, who teaches at their high school. Each character peels back the layers of the story from their own perspective, revealing details about the community in which they live.

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin is a written as a collection if oral interviews tracing the events that lead to the untimely death of an up and coming artist.

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The story is told by family members, boyfriends, teachers, friends and competitors, and magazine photos and newspaper clippings, with occasional insets of her art. The portraits they paint conflict and don’t always create a sympathetic portrait. No one comes out of this well. Each narrator has their own stake in the myth and marketing of Addison Stone and reveals as much about themselves as they do about Addison Stone.

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf  by Ambelin Kwaymullina has one narrator, but plays around with layers of memory.

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Unlike the two previous realistic novels, this is a YA dystopian novel. We meet Ashala in prison where she is forced to endure “the machine” a tool that will extract memories and secrets from her mind, revealing a plot against the order. Or so Chief Administrator Neville Rose, a man who is intent on destroying Ashala’s Tribe, believes. I almost gave this book up, thinking it was what it appeared to be on the surface, but once Ashala’s interrogation began, I realized this book was not just another  YA dystopian novel. We get to go places in Ashala’s memory Neville Rose cannot and it is really worth going there.

All three of these were really enjoyable reads and I highly recommend them.

 

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