20 April 2011

TBR challenge April - The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston

Hardcover, Carolrhoda Books, 2010

Disclosure: I didn't buy this book, I won it in the draw for contributors to Maureen Johnson's Next Little Shelterbox campaign on twitter.

High school student Loa suffers a series of losses, one after the other. One of her few friends is killed in a road traffic accident, another leaves the country, her father loses his job, and most profoundly, her disabled sister dies. Caring for Loa's sister is the glue that binds the family together, and when she dies, grief affects them all.

The main thing that stood out for me in this book was Loa's voice. The author has nailed the sense of isolation and suppressed pain that carries Loa through her life not quite caring about anything that happens to her in the face of all the things that already have. Death is the Bony Guy, and he is never far away from her thoughts, which she expresses with a certain wryness. Despite this she never disconnects completely. She works to deal with her losses and keeps going using her own unique outlook on life.

Her family's new poverty makes even the simplest things difficult, and I found the lack of a safety net for the family quite shocking. This makes the book sound depressing, but it wasn't. Things get better for everyone, and I finished the book glad I had read it, even if I did wipe away a few tears in the middle. Loa felt very real.

Not my normal genre by any stretch, but a welcome change, and a book I would recommend for anyone wanting to read something a little different.

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