Sunday, 20 October 2019

Post on a foggy morning...

It’s chilly and foggy outside this morning as I sip my steamed chai tea and nibble on a delicious Date Bar.  It’s supposed to get warm and sunny today, and I’ve hung my comforter on the clothesline outside to dry, so I’ve got my fingers crossed that the fog dissipates soon!
It was a long weekend last week, and as with all long weekends, it filled up with activities and errands and visiting and additional chores that need to be done at this time of year, so I didn’t even think about what to read next until late Monday afternoon.  I considered every one of the books that made up the huge pile I had checked out from the library, and they all seemed like they would be good reads. But I had to consider how much reading time I would have this past week, so I set aside the nearly-700 page option and chose instead a short-ish Young Adult book, Who Killed Christopher Goodman by Allan Wolf, and I was not disappointed.  This engaging mystery is told from the points of view of six different characters in a small town in Virginia in 1979 as they relay the details leading up to the shooting of a young man, strange but nice guy Christopher Goodman.  David Oscar “Doc” Chestnut is “the sleepwalker”, so named because, although he’s mostly outgrown his tendency to actually sleepwalk, he never does anything, sleepwalking through life.  Hunger McCoy is “the good ol’ boy” who tries to do good whenever he can.  He loves animals, and has begun his own taxidermy projects, called “Roadkill Resurrections”, following in his father’s footsteps.  Mildred Penny is “the stamp collector”, a shy, quiet girl who has a crush on Christopher but can’t get up the nerve to look him in the eye, let alone engage him in conversation.  Hazel Turner is “the farm girl”, a brash, outspoken lass who befriends Mildred as their shifts overlap at the diner where they both work. Oh, and she lives on a farm. Scott “Squib” Kaplan is “the genius”, a smart boy from a well-off family who is, unfortunately, afflicted with Tourette’s Syndrome, making him a target for taunting and bullying.  He drives an ice cream truck for his uncle and is Doc’s best friend. Leonard Pelf is “the runaway” who lives in a foster home where the couple are religious but seem to genuinely care for him. He has issues surrounding his anger management, and all he wants to do is go back to his family, his younger brother and sister and his mother, but this seems unlikely.  Instead, he takes comfort in caring for the foster couple’s Chihuahua, Scrabbles, as he and his friend Lance plan their escape to California. The one character in this cast that we don’t hear from directly is Christopher, skillfully depicting the distant relationships each of these characters has with him by distancing the reader from him as well; we never really know what he is thinking or why he wears those hugely wide bellbottoms or shakes hands with everyone he meets and greets people using their full names.  There is a festival in mid-summer in this town, Deadwood Days, a Western-themed event that lifts the boredom of summer, if only for a short while. During this festival, Doc, Hunger, Mildred, Hazel and Squib form a bond as they plan and execute a plot to get back at one of the townspeople. At the same time, Christopher is being shot, and each of these students considers what role they played in the events leading up to his death and whether anything they could have done would have prevented this from happening. Told in distinctive voices for each character, this novel is based on an event from the author’s own teenage years, an event for which he, too, felt guilt, a feeling that has haunted him for decades.  I thought it was a fabulous book, reminding me of one of my favourite movies, “The Breakfast Club”, because in both book and movie, a group of individuals who at first appear to be totally different are brought together and find that they are, in fact, very similar. It also reminded me of a YA novel I recently read, One of Us is Lying,by Karen McManus, which I also really enjoyed.  If you are looking for a quick, interesting, engaging YA mystery with a satisfying ending, I would definitely recommend this one.
That’s all for today.  Enjoy the fall colours and make time to read!
Bye for now…
Julie

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