I have, like most of you, piles of books. There are so many books that we don't have enough shelves for them -- even though our house is full of shelves. We have boxes of books and stacks of books and piles of books. We hoard our pennies to buy more shelves, but we always end up with more books. Somehow. Oddly. As if the universe were conspiring against us.
There are never enough hours in the day (yes, I know: a topic for an entire week of posts, debating a myriad of sides), so, of course, I've only read a portion of the books I own even though I'm always reading. Not too long ago, however, I rescued A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb from the shelf and finally devoured it.
I had originally picked out the book because of -- you guessed it -- the title. Any reference to Emily Dickinson immediately piques my interest. Secondly, the picture was intriguing: a girl with long hair mostly submerged in a bathtub with only her hands showing.
The premise -- a ghost who falls in love with the only boy who can see her -- is not that of a love story or that of teenage angst or even that of being invisible, although these elements all permeate the text. Instead, it's a novel that explores both acceptance and forgiveness, more specifically the ability to accept and forgive oneself for past failures, mistakes, missteps.
My review in a nutshell: As an English major, I enjoyed the references to literary figures woven into the text. As a writer, I appreciated the nuances of emotion, both teenage and adult, deftly unveiled through character development. As a reader, I reveled in the plot less traveled. As a teacher of teens for the past ten years, I had to admit: I've seen far too many students in Billy's predicament, with home lives in turmoil and drug and alcohol abuse constant companions. I've seen none in Jenny's, however, none who live imprisoned in some gestapo-like "Christian" household. That was the one unrealistic part, the part that felt like Whitcomb abused as some authorial soap-box of sorts. It left a metallic taste in my mouth, even though I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the book. Even though I recommend it to you now.
The Connection: A Certain Slant of Light perched on the chair next to my computer desk for a month or so before I happened to read on KatW's blog that she too was reading it. How funny that both of us picked up a book, published in 2005, and read it at the same time. I just love connections like that.