The Almost Moon
Hmm.So, this is Alice Sebold of The Lovely Bones fame. Her new book (her sophomore novel) is similar in tone to The Lovely Bones, but very different in character and plot. So much so, that it's gotten me worried.See, once upon a time, I loved a book called The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Actually, I'll go as far as to say it's one of my all-time favorite books. It concerns five Classical History students at a small, liberal arts college in the Northeast. The students are a secretive bunch, and they get it in their minds to hold an honest-to-Gods Bacchanal. Things go awry, with the force and irony of any good Greek tragedy. I loved it with every fiber of my Classical-history-major being, and I waited impatiently (for ten freaking years!) for her second novel to be released. And when it was, I bought it off the shelf with barely a glance.It was about a 10-year-old girl in the deep south in the late 1970's. Same tone...but where were my history-obsessed college students? The indulgent and inspiring professor? Where were the people that I related to, Donna Tartt? What did you do with them, and who the hell is this precocious kid, Harriet?No matter how good of a novel it was (and it did get widespread acclaim), I was disappointed and missed Henry, Bunny, Richard, Charles, Camilla, and Francis...I missed that to which I could personally relate.So, why am I bringing this up NOW? What does this have to do with Alice Sebold?I've taken many requests for The Almost Moon at the library. I'd have to say that 2/3 of them are from teenage girls. These are the people that clutch their well-worn copy of The Lovely Bones to their chests and sigh "Susie Salmon!".* I think that The Lovely Bones hit a nerve thatLurlene McDaniel has been plucking at for years: that of the tragic teenage girl. Stories that hormonal young women devour whilst sobbing into their pillows.The Almost Moon is about the tumultuous relationship between a woman in her eighties (Clair) and her daughter (Helen). It takes place over a 24-hour period, and consists mostly of flashbacks to Helen's youth, and what it was like growing up with Clair as a mother. It's a tragic tale of frustration and losing control - on both of their parts. It's a wretched story of two lives that revolve around each other, poisoning each other. I skimmed parts of it because I just wasn't digging the melodrama. There are parts of this book that are truly baffling: the things that Clair and Helen do, the way that Sebold writes (there are some god-awful comparisons and squick-worthy observations), and how she jumps around haphazardly from scene to scene, character to character, concept to concept. I didn't enjoy it. It was a huge disappointment.So, what's the point of this super-long review?I think that Alice Sebold is going to confuse, and then lose a significant part of her readership. Now, I'm not saying that she should have pumped out another 30 *sigh* "Susie Salmon!" novels. She's an established author now, she can write whatever the hell she wants and we'll buy it. But I can't help feeling concerned for those teenage girls who are impatiently waiting for me to return the book so that THEY can read it with their tissues handy. I think that Alice Sebold will lose them after the first chapter. I just don't think they'll be able to relate to a 60-year-old woman's dealings with her 80-year-old mother in the same way as they did with *sigh* "Susie Salmon!". I feel really badly for these girls that are going to get all excited about reading a new book by a cool author...and wind up with this lumbering, cringe-worthy tale.This book is going to surprise a LOT of people...and not in a good way. Pass it by if you loved The Lovely Bones. I don't want you to sully the experience of reading that book by reading this one, knowing that somehow they came out of the same mind.* Susie Salmon is the main character in The Lovely Bones, the one with whom the female teen population is almost universally enamored.