Posted in Bookworm, Word Therapy

Spoilers: When Your Favorite Character Dies

My daughter is on the last one hundred pages of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows this week. It has been rough. She was able to handle those deaths from the previous installments. She was outraged when she started Deathly Hallows and a beloved pet and teacher were killed. By the next day she was okay. But ever since Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, my girl has become obsessed with the Weasley family (who can blame her?). Ginny is Scarlet’s favorite. Ron is the brother she wishes she had (she does she just hasn’t given him a chance yet). But the girl has turned her adoration to twins Fred and George in the past month. And with that I knew the death that would devastate her.

Even though I have read many books since I was a kid, I don’t remember many character deaths that had an impact on me. Maybe there weren’t a lot. Between the Ramona books, Judy Blume, and V.C. Andrews, there were little to no deaths (yes, people died in Flowers in the Attic but that book had so many wrong things going on it was hard to focus on just the deaths). Then I started reading the Sweet Valley High series by Francine Pascal. Character Regina Morrow was the first book character death that hit hard and has stayed with me 25 years later.

The Sweet Valley High series is the story of twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield who are high schoolers that live in a sunny California town. Elizabeth is the conscientious and sweet girl while Jessica is the fun and gossipy one. They have a large group of friends. In the story On the Edge, one of them is Regina Morrow, a beautiful, wealthy girl. She is kind and close to Elizabeth. She dates Bruce Patman, who is known for being a douche. When Bruce decides to dump Regina to go out with someone else, she takes it hard. She goes to a party where she does cocaine and it leads to her death. Her dying left me numb I was so shocked. I read these books to escape and for enjoyment. I didn’t expect the darkness that came in just a moment. All this time has passed and I still remember that feeling.

Scarlet Harry PotterWhen Scarlet read that Harry Potter death, she came to me the next day with tears in her eyes and told me he had died. I told her how sorry I was and cried with her. After a few minutes I was able to tell her that out of all the deaths in the Harry Potter world, his death was the one J.K. Rowling regrets the most. This made her feel a little better. But I also know his death will stay with her and remind her how much she cared about him and this fictional world.

Posted in Bookworm

Fiction Friday: Eleanor and Park

A suggestion was made to me that I might want to start reviewing books. I read at least two books a month and don’t feel like myself unless I have a book on my person at all times. The idea made sense and it pushes me to write more (practice, practice, practice).

Today’s book is called Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. It is a young adult novel about two teenage outsiders who fall in love in the midst of child abuse (hers) and peer pressure (his). It is set in Omaha, Nebraska in 1986. It has been compared to a John Hughes film and that point couldn’t be more spot on. The dialogue between the teenagers feels so real and the emotions comes effortlessly. Nothing ever feels put upon. I grew up in the 80s and was 11 in 1986. The music she references (The Smiths, New Order, and Joy Division)were too cool for my preteen years but once I hit high school there was nobody cooler than Morrissey and Johnny Marr (my junior year winter formal date looked just like Morrissey-true story). Eleanor at one point is talking to Park on the phone on the floor of her deadbeat Dad’s apartment. She is browsing Dad’s collection of records. Rowell creates such a picture in my head that I could smell the records, the incense, and even the marijuana. The terror and subsequent dread that comes with riding the bus to and from school flooded me with memories. I only wish I had found young love on the bus like the frizzy red headed girl and her punk rock Asian boyfriend (they are definitely not your stereotypical beautiful/dashing heroine/hero).

Eleanor and Park is my new The Fault in Our Stars. It is filled with sweet awkwardness. I was having an inner battle between wanting to read the book slowly so it would never end and wanting to finish it quickly so I could return it to the library so somebody else could experience the joy of reading it. It even has a Star Wars reference for goodness sake. I am still working on my young adult novel and I can now say that Eleanor and Park is the book I strive to write.

A message to the idiots who banned this book in Minnesota: Censorship doesn’t solve anything. It only breeds ignorance. So STOP IT.