Charlie had never really spoken to Jasper Jones, the town “troublemaker”, before the night he came to Charlie’s window. He had been looking forward to a lazy summer with his best friend, Jeffrey, but now he is in the middle of a murder mystery. Someone hung the daughter of the shire’s president, and Jasper is sure he will be blamed unless he and Charlie can figure out who did it first. The boys deal with murder, prejudice, incest and first loves. They also get to know each other and themselves much better over the course of this summer. This book takes place in a small Australian town in the 1960s, and while a lot of very serious things happen in the story, it’s also a very funny story. This book had me laughing out loud, quoting it to my friends, on the edge of my seat, and thinking long after I put it down.
Texas Gothic revolves around Amy Goodnight, who is housesitting with her sister, Phin, for their aunt. Now the Goodnights aren’t your average family, they have some added magical flair. Some of them create magical things, like lotion that makes all your aches and pains go away, and others are psychic. Amy wants nothing to do with her magic side whatever her skills might be, but she finds herself attracting ghosts and a whole lot of trouble instead. After a skeleton is discovered near her aunt’s ranch, Amy and Phin find themselves more involved than they ever expected, which puts the town’s folk in a tizzy when people start getting hurt and ghost rumors and Goodnight connections to the events start to fly. There’s a bit of romance (not pukey) between Amy and ranch neighbor, Ben, which is pretty amusing. With a good dose of creepiness and intrigue, this is a guaranteed scary read.
I really liked the feel of this book. Throughout the story it was really easy to connect with Jack and the other characters and get wrapped up in the story. Jack has always felt invisible in his family and when his mother drops him off at his Aunt Mabel’s and Uncle Clive’s for a visit, he starts to unravel the mystery and magic behind why he never felt loved or part of his family, especially when he realizes in Hazelwood he can make friends and people do care about him.
Jack is very resistant to this whole idea of magic that the kids he meets in town keep mentions and that his uncle keeps nudging him to read about in book of the town’s history at first. Once Jack starts unraveling what really happened in Hazelwood and how he’s connected to it all things start to get interesting, with Mr. Avery, the richest man in town, who’s also the town bully’s dad, wanting him dead, his and Aunt and Uncle’s house starts talking to him, the nature around Jack seems to be reaching out to him and that’s just the beginning.
Mara Dyer is an unreliable narrator that can’t be trusted–a PTSD sufferer whose hallucinations keep her from remembering the truth about the night that her boyfriend, friend, and best friend died.
However, when I picked it up to read, I was completely taken over. This novel was amazing and it deserves all the buzz it is generating. Here’s the shocker: I read it, all 464 pages, in one day. For me, this is an amazing feat, and it means I thought this book was really, really good!
Essentially, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyeris a mystery, the reader left with the task to figure out what happened the night that Mara’s friends died and what is it about that night that is causing her to have post traumatic stress disorder. The novel begins with Mara’s life before, when she lived in Rhode Island and was dealing with normal teenage problems: a new girl moving in on her territory with her best friend Rachel, and a crush on a boy who seemed perfect. However, this all changed when Mara wakes up in a hospital room surrounded by her family and learns that there was an accident. No, not a car accident, but a building collapsed and Mara was the only survivor. Her best friend Rachel, the new girl Claire, and her boyfriend Jude are all dead and Mara can’t remember anything about that night. Traumatized and left with hallucinations thanks to PTSD, Mara does anything she can to try to hide her anguish. However, when you hallucinate seeing the dead, it is hard to try and hide it. And I am going to stop summarizing there, because this book is definitely better read when you know very little about what to expect.
What I think made me love this book so much was that Mara was so unreliable. Her mind is broken, so you don’t know what is true. This book has an amazing mystery, a tortured romance, and is just a very compelling read. I really don’t know how to put into words what it was like reading this book– I was completely drawn in and felt at times that I was Mara. If you read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and love it as much as I do, you’re in luck (well maybe, that depends on your patience)! The second book in the series will be out in Fall 2012.