Sunday, July 24, 2016

Plain Kate by Erin Bow

American cover of Plain Kate
Everyone calls Kate by her nickname "Plain Kate." As a female woodcarver, she's an outsider. After her father dies, Kate becomes even more of an outcast.

English cover of Plain Kate
To make matters worst, an albino witch convinces Kate to give him her shadow. Kate foolishly agrees to give Linay her shadow in exchange for fish hooks and supplies. She does not realize the full implications of losing her shadow.

Since Kate and Taggle, her cat, cannot survive on their own, they tentatively finds a place among the roamers. The roamers (Roma) are a group that travels by caravan. Daj and Drina protect Kate though some of the roamers are fearful of outsiders. 

When Drina learns Kate's secret--her hasty bargain with Linay-- she becomes determined to help her. Drina's own mother was a healer who was tragically burned as a witch. 

In Toila, all of Drina's efforts, however, backfire. Instead of rescuing her friend from the false charge of witchcraft, the town accuses Drina of witchcraft. The girls barely escape with their lives. 

Bow's prose is poetic yet the action moves swiftly. The characters are strongly delineated against a backdrop of fear and suspicion. Kate is a heroine in the truest sense and strong role-model for girls.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Songs for the Missing by Nan O'Stewart

When Kim goes missing, her parents search frantically for her. They don't know the secret that their daughter's boyfriend and Kim's best friend is hiding from them.

Nan O'Stewart was inspired to write this book because of his own memories of searching for a missing person when he was seventeen. According to novelist M.J. Rose's blog, Backstory, that pivotal event informed several of his novels--Snow Angels and Wish You Were Here.  

This is psychological exploration of the emotions searchers feel as they learn to cope with the loss of loved one. 

The tone of the novel is staid; it's not a suspense thriller. Even if its the work of a skilled writer, it lacks some closure. Some questions about Kim's disappearance are never answered. 

Read more:
M.J. Rose's Backstory in which Nan O'Stewart discusses a continuing motif in his work: