Monday, October 19, 2009
The Way He Lived by Emily Wing Smith
"Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child must work hard for a living,
But the child that's born on the Sabbath day
Is fair and wise and good and gay."
This nursery rhyme is the structure of The Way He Lived-- and it totally works.
(Even if it's totally grammatically wrong. Because as my AP English teacher liked to say: "People are who's, not which's or that's, except for those who are witches with hats.")
I mentioned this book during Banned Books Week because it's come under fire in Florida. Now I've actually read it. I sorta kinda almost see the concern..... but not really.
I'd totally give this to my teenage sister (and likely will) while there are a LOT of other books I won't, even if I liked them.
Now, if books without a ton of resolution bug you, this may not be for you. Of the 7 main characters (6 narrators, one omnipresent) you come away sort of feeling like you know what's up with... say 3 of them.
Since Joel (the title character) is omnipresent and yet not at all present, one can only draw inferences about him. Having finished the book, the only things I'm positive about-- he was a really nice guy and he's dead. There are other ideas floating around my brain, but I can't be sure about any of them.
Tabbatha is Monday's child. Except she's not the pretty one, she's the smart one. She's also Joel's older sister.
Adlen is Tuesday's child. She's the debate captain and was Joel's debate partner. Except she hates debate.
Wednesday's child is Miles and full of woe does not begin to describe where his head is at. Joel's best friend, the only one who was with him when he died, has serious issues.
Claire comes next-- Joel's little sister. And go far she certainly does.
Norah is the epitome of giving and caring... Miles' little sister all but runs the household. What no one realizes is that she was in love with Joel and is just as broken as Miles.
Saturday's child-- Lissa-- probably has the most resolution in the end. She was Joel's neighbor, Miles' girlfriend, and it's just as hard for her. But she's also perhaps the most ready to move on.
This is not an easy style to pull off. Each narrator has their own distinct voice and style. In fact, each section is written differently. One is blog entries, then there's first person and third person sections. Most authors couldn't make that work.
All in all, brilliantly written and it really makes you think. Totally recommended.