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Monday, June 25, 2007

TBR Challenge for June

The TBR Challenge For June, and the end of the school year, is to read a book with at least one school-age character in it.

To participate, leave a comment here or on your blog.

I chose:

**½ Durable Goods by Elizabeth Berg. Women's fiction.

I'm not sure why I had this book in my TBR pile--it must have been a recommendation, but I'm not sure from whom, or why I took the recommendation.

Maybe they recommended it because the main character is a 12-year-old army brat. I've got one of those in my house, actually, though he's not a girl. And this isn't the 60s (50s?).

But that's also why I got turned off by the book very early on. Have I ranted here yet about every single military father in fiction being an abusive asshole? Don't worry--I won't. It doesn't even surprise me anymore. I just chalk it up to ignorance and a desire to keep that us vs. them separation alive so that perpetual war is okay. (So I lied--it's just a mini-rant, after all.) Oh, and I tend to not want to read the author's books anymore.

Twelve-year-old Katie and her teenage sister Diane live with their abusive army officer father after the death of their mother. Katie mostly hangs out with her 14-year-old friend Cherylanne. There's lots about how Katie and Cherylanne spend their time, and how Katie tries to avoid her father's abuse.

Then he announces they have to move, and ****spoilers****Diane runs away with her boyfriend, taking Katie with them, but then Katie calls her dad and goes back home.****

It's more of a snapshot of a short period in a girl's life than it is a story. Some of the reviews call it a coming-of-age story, but I think that's just because Katie is 12. She doesn't really grow up or change much. It's not a character study, either, because there's not much depth to the characters. The girls are pretty bland--we see them behaving like ordinary adolescents, and there's nothing particularly memorable or illuminating about any of it. The father, too, wasn't very believable, and not just because of the caricature of a military dad. For example, ****spoiler**** his almost nonchalant reaction to the girls running away and to Diane not coming back is completely at odds with his established abuse. **** There's not even an attempt to explain it.

It is a very atmospheric and clear snapshot, but that's not enough to carry a book. I'm not tempted to check out the sequels.


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