Friday, October 21, 2011

REALISTIC FICTION that SHINES

Well, I began writing this post on Monday before I heard about the controversy that happened around the multiple blunders of the National Book Awards nomination committee.  All I have to say, is; the mischievous telephone spirits got it right, because Shine ought to have been on the list of nominations.  The two books below contain brilliant stories that not only entertain, they thoughtfully dig into heinous situations.

Everybody Sees the Ants, by A. S. King, 2012.
Fifteen-year-old Lucky Linderman has been continuously bullied by one boy since grade school.  The adults in his life are ineffectual, and worse - counter-productive.  After one more particularly vicious attack which literally drops him on the ground he starts to see anthropomorphic ants.  The ants become his humorous cheering section, as his mother finally takes some action and takes Lucky on a trip to Arizona to visit relatives.  Throughout the story Lucky dreams about his grandfather, who went missing during the Vietnam War.  The dreams seem to manifest things in his waking life giving the story a glow of magic realism.  In Arizona Lucky meets Ginny, who makes him tag along to play rehearsals for The Vagina Monologues.  Ginny helps him to see himself in a new way, which ultimately results in positive action in his life.  Everybody Sees the Ants is by turns funny and sharply insightful.

Shine, by Lauren Myracle, 2011.   Shine begins with a newspaper article: "Stunned residents of Black Creek, North Carolina, pray for seventeen-year-old Patrick Truman, beaten and left for dead outside the convenience store where he works....The slur written on Truman's chest, coupled with the placement of the gasoline nozzle in the victim's mouth, suggests that Truman's attack was motivated by anti-gay sentiments."  The local law enforcement have no leads, and are ready to explain away the violent assault as the crime of a chance stranger.  While Patrick is in a coma in the hospital, sixteen-year-old Cat, a childhood best friend of Patrick's, has her suspicions about what happened.  Over the course of a week, Cat who has troubles of her own that she hasn't dealt with, finds the courage to move out of her passivity and fear, to uphold the life of her friend, and eventually herself.

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