Friday, September 6, 2013

Kiss Me, Hardy!

I just finished a brilliant book, which I am not going to review here because I have to save it for the next Cephalopod Coffeehouse. I mean, I'm assuming it will be my favorite book of the month, though I could get lucky and read something even better.

No, I'm not reviewing it, exactly. I am just recommending you run out and buy a copy.


The Amazon blurb is this: "In exchange for a temporary stay of execution and lesser forms of torture, a young female spy captured in Nazi-occupied France writes a confession of her activities in the Resistance. Her story is that of two women who should never have crossed paths, yet were destined to become the best of friends and embark upon the covert mission that would determine which of them would live or die. Courage born of friendship, fierce hope, and surprising ironies abound in this spell-binding novel that will appeal to teens and adult readers alike."

What I really don't get is how this novel is marketed as a "children's book." Even calling it YA is a stretch. It isn't especially violent* and has very little sexuality, but the themes and the language** are pretty adult. I'm not saying kids shouldn't read it — I am totally comfortable with my middle-schooler and my high-schooler reading it. (In fact, the former is nearly done and the latter just finished.) I only think it's a shame to give it a label that will keep it out of adult hands. Adults can and should read this book. It's got something for everyone: it's got war (I did say I was done with war, didn't I? Oh well), it's got history, it's got spies, it's got intense friendship. As soon as you're done, you are compelled to flip back to the beginning and start over. The premise seems grim, but I found myself laughing every other page. Wein is a master of her craft.

Check it out. And then come talk to me about it on September 27 — the next Coffeehouse!

*As the blurb indicates, the "young female spy" is tortured. Somehow Wein makes it abundantly clear the character is suffering ... without being grisly about it.

** I don't mean sweary. I mean big words. It's a vocab-builder, with a lexile score that easily beats out Hemingway, Salinger, and Steinbeck. (I checked.)

8 comments:

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    1. Yeah, hope you read it! Would love to hear your thoughts.

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  2. Oh, it's like a sneak preview - fun!

    Lexile score: had to Google that one. Now that I know, it seems vaguely familiar - the stuff I tune out of during faculty meetings when I know it doesn't pertain to me. (Shhh, don't tell!)

    Kidding aside, there is definitely a drawback to over-categorizing in any medium. The labels serve a purpose, to be sure, but it can also make it harder to find a plain ol' good book.

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    1. I am with you; I want to roll my eyes at lexile scores. I mostly see that concept lobbed AT books more than anything: the Hunger Games had a "low score" therefore was dumbing down, or whatever. I only brought it up here to make the point that what some may regard as fluff outranks Salinger. So there. Phbbhhth, scoring-people.

      I am torn on the labeling here: I am pleased that such a challenging, provocative book will end up in smooth unlined hands because of the YA label. My son probably would not have read it, if it had been "properly" labeled as adult fiction. On the other hand, I'm sad so many adults will never lay eyes on it because of the same label. Like you said: labels help, but labels limit. Not sure I see a way around that.

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  3. What a terrific non-review review. It does sound like a terrific book, and I agree with you about categorizing books, and thus limiting its target audience. I'll look into this one. Thanks!

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    1. Susan, I would love to hear your response to this one. I think you'd really like it.

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  4. Your kids are very well-read, girl. :)

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    1. The young'un didn't end up liking it too well. At least he finished it!

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