Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Playing in Traffic

by Gail Giles.

Stop me when you've heard this before...
A young girl in high school. She's a mass of contradictions - a slut, brilliant, dangerous, unstable. And she's beautiful, but goth and pierced and tattooed and clearly self-destructive. She has no friends, plays chicken with the guidance counselors and acts out in class, takes some drugs, shoplifts, and so on. Oh, you've met her in teen lit before? Yeah, me too.

The other character is more interesting, a nobody in the school who makes himself a nonpresence on purpose. He gets reeled in by her mystery, her promise of sex, her apparently vulnerable side, her stories of abuse. Despite his falling for these lures, he is on the whole a very astute fellow for his age. It works, though, because it isn't the voice of an adult looking back with the knowledge of hindsight, it's the voice of a cynical outsider looking in. He notes, for example, that the story of her taking on the entire football team right on the field is a ridiculous rumour that exists in every high school. He even starts to sense the inconsistencies in her tales, though he is still, mostly, wide open to her.

So there he is, Mr. Beige being drawn into the swirling drama of Gothgirl, and things start getting weird - surprise! Eventually, she asks him to kill her parents. Yeah. heard that story on the news? Me too. Sure, the ending is not the she-turns-out-to-have-a-heart-of-gold epiphany that you might be used to, but it's not the shocking original it seems to think it is, either.

Final assessment? Feh. Didn't hate it, didn't like it, just not really that impressed and found it not that original in the end. I believe the phrase here is "damning with faint praise."

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Interesting... I've been checking out some of the backs of the "teen lit" selections at Indigo lately (mostly because the covers are so stylized that they suck me in) and I'm a bit shocked at how much the subjects have matured for young adults (is that PC, do we call them young adults now? I'm so old). I'm sorry to hear that another book has fallen into the cookie cutter mode. Real world does not have many hearts-of-gold triumphs.
WHAT that is a book for teenagers? Is it just me or is that totally crazy????
AND you've seen these story lines before

signing off in shock and terror
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