ningerbil (ningerbil) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books 3 and 4

3. Girlchild, by Tupelo Hassman. An incredible read. Beautifully lyrical, but brutally heartwrenching at the same time. The story follows Rory Hendrix from girlhood to her teen years. She lives in the Calle, an impoverished area near Reno. It seems everyone expects her to eventually succumb to the hopelessness that permeates her corner of the world, where fathers are largely absent and mothers either scrap by with meager jobs or take in a string of questionable boyfriends (or, in Rory's mother's case, both. Addictions run like the plague, and the young Rory is witness to many terrible things. She feels trapped- I think one of the more pointed moments after her participation in the spelling bee is that in her area, teachers, administrators and officials with the County, who have a case file on the family, are more comfortable with mediocrity. It's predictable, and makes you invisible. If you try to stand out, Rory reasons, then the adults in charge might be shaken from their notions about what poor children are capable of. There are many tender moments, especially with Rory's mother and grandmother - two sympathetic if highly flawed people. This is not an easy read; some of the hardest moments in the book comes from Rory's witnessing the sexual abuse of a neighborhood girl, along with her own recollections of abuse. But it is worth a read, and really makes you think.

4. My Friend Dahmer, by Derf Backderf. I had heard about this book, and decided to give it a try when I saw that it was one of the books which won this year's Alex Award. For those who don't know about Jeffrey Dahmer, he was arrested and found guilty in connection of the murders of 17 men and boys. He grew up - as did the author - in a community about a half hour from where I live. Indeed, Backderf, who has done editorial cartooning, comic strips and a previous graphic novel and lives in the Cleveland area, was in the same graduating class as Dahmer and even knew him (although they were never close). Backderf offers an interesting inside view of Dahmer's high school years, pulling both from his memories, from court records and news articles, and in conversations with others. what emerges is a profile of a young man who was already twisted, already considered odd, already deeply troubled. But you feel a bit sorry for Dahmer, too - to a degree. Hindsight is 20/20 but you have to wonder what might have happened if an adult had intervened. if someone had noticed the amount of alcohol the teenage Dahmer consumed on a daily basis, his preoccupation with roadkill and death. The book does not come off as voyeuristic, but is a thoughtful, well put together work on one of the greatest monsters of the late 20th century, told from a personal point of view. Backderf includes source information and a timeline in the back, which also is worth a read.
Tags: fiction, graphic novel, non-fiction

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