Hi, my name is Léna, and I'm addicted to reading. Seriously. Some of you must know what I mean. The urge, the compulsion can strike at any moment, and if I don't get my reading fix in, I'm cranky, irritable and discontent. And reading on my computer doesn't count. Pah! (Take that Kindle!) I need to hold a book in my hands, smell the crispness of the paper, feel the smoothness of the pages. (Sigh. I may have to stop writing and open a book!)
The urge came over me last night when I finally got my overdue order from Amazon with copies of Carolyn Mackler's Tangled, and Deborah Heiligman's Charles and Emma, (the latter of which was a National Book Award Finalist, and both won a Printz Honor and the YALSA Excellence in Non-Fiction Award) Amazon is usually so fast, but this seemed to take weeks!
But whose book to read first? Both Carolyn and Deborah are new-ish friends, "set up" by other friends in our neighborhood on the Upper West Side of Manhattan- "Oh, you're a writer? Well, you have to meet so and so, she's a writer too!" (Oh, I am now part of the club and I am such a lucky gal!)
Who I met first becomes my barometer for choice. I pick up Carolyn's TANGLED. (We have a mutual friend who had been trying to get us together for years, so I had already become a fan of Crolyn's writing when we met. THE EARTH, MY BUTT, AND OTHER ROUND THINGS had become a favorite in YA literature and I was a little nervous, meeting such a great author, but I needn't have been. Carolyn is so lovely and down to earth - we hit it off immediately, both of us reluctant to leave our lunch for other responsibilities.)
So I picked up Carolyn's TANGLED, and my book addiction kicked in. Uh -oh. I'm not going to be able to put this one down. There goes sleep. Carolyn has a knack for hooking you into her characters emotional lives right away. TANGLED tells the stories of Jena, Dakota, Skye and Owen, whose lives touch briefly when they meet on vacation. Over the next few months as each one tells his or her own story, Carolyn shows us how it's our own perception of ourselves that matters the most and that we have the power to change the way we think and respond to the world. The story masterfully starts with Jena, a character who I related to without question (and was the reason I couldn't put the book down). Jena introduces us to the other three protagonists as she gets hurt by Dakota, is diminished by Skye, and intrigued by Owen.
I love books with different points of view - they teach me to have perspective in my own life. I wasn't prepared to like Dakota or Skye, because I so closely identified with Jena - but I did. Carolyn uses the philosophy of the butterfly effect to beautifully illustrate how small a change needs to be to have a positive effect, without being didactic or preachy. Her use of humor and pathos didn't help me put down the book when my husband asked if I was coming to bed.
"I have to read!" I exclaimed in a frenzy. This book addict has been sated. For now.
Uh-oh. Now I'm feeling the compulsion again, but I have too much to . . . CHARLES & EMMA! I'm coming!
Léna is also a Regional Manager for Writopia Lab whose mission is to foster joy, literacy, and critical thinking in kids and teens from all backgrounds through creative writing.
"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.