August 2019 | Books & Links
Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell
I don’t usually read Young Adult fiction. I’m not the target demographic, and I don’t really care for vampires or romance stories. I borrowed Eleanor & Park from the library out of curiosity, and it was okay, but nothing special. I found the writing style a bit annoying with the story flipping back and forth between Eleanor and Park, but I can see how a teenager might enjoy it.
Most of all I was frustrated by the subject matter. Eleanor lives with her abusive step-dad, and there are big sections where Rainbow Rowell details domestic violence and child abuse, two very heavy topics, and yet the story is first and foremost about Eleanor’s relationship with Park. I feel that more time could have been given to exploring Eleanor’s family life and experiences, but as it is written they’re just used as a colourful backdrop to the main story. I found the ending particularly hollow, but maybe that’s just me.
Again, I’m not the target demographic for this book but I think I would have been frustrated by it as a teenaged reader too.
Instrumental – James Rhodes
After stumbling on a video of James playing Bach’s ‘Chaconne’ I went in search of more of his recordings and work. He wrote Instrumental a few years ago now, and at the time had great difficulty publishing it as a result of a legal battle with his ex-wife about the content of the book.
Instrumental documents James’ life in his late twenties and early thirties as he trained to be a concert pianist after not having played piano for a decade. In between the chapters detailing his life as an adult he writes in graphic detail about his childhood and the sexual abuse he suffered at school, and how it shaped his life. It’s harrowing to read but I’m so glad he was able to write it and release it into the world.
I loved how he starts each chapter with a piece of classical music that means something special to him. I love his passion for music, I love how much he loves Bach’s music (I do too) and I agree 100% with his assertion that music can keep you afloat through the most difficult times in life. Music was a huge part of how I got through secondary school, too. In my last two years of school I spent almost every lunch break in a practice room on my own with a piano, and I would retreat to the music department as soon as my classes finished each afternoon.
Duck, Death and The Tulip – Wolf Erlbruch
As I was picking up my reservations in the library I walked past a shelf of children’s books and Duck, Death and The Tulip caught my eye. I read it in five minutes standing up in the corridor and loved both the story and the illustrations. It’s a short picture book designed to help children feel less scared about death. It’s really beautiful.