11 April 2010

Day 15: Leviathan

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld.  ISBN: 9781416971733.

This is one of those books that makes me think about all the other books I've read over the past twenty-something years.  Most of which I've forgotten.  So far I can't say this has been a fairly memorable read, but as I'm only a quarter of the way through the four-hundred and a half pages I'll reserve judgment a little longer. 

Still, I'm enjoying this.  The large print has been easy on my eyes, which is a nice change of pace from the strain of driving (I've finally stopped seeing Volkswagen Beetles when I close my eyes, thank you).  And as far as Young Adult literature goes, this is one of the most age appropriate things I've read in a long time.  This is the kind of book I would have really appreciated when I was between 8-12, where I was reading at a very high level both vocabulary and concepts, but wasn't quite ready for adult reading. 

On the other hand Leviathan is very well suited for this age range I think, and maybe even a little beyond.  There are some complex themes, or at least themes that have the potential to be complex.  The characters started out as very rough sketches, but I get the feeling they'll soon be fleshed out.  The one problem I do have with the novel is that it does that common thing of, "I'm a strong kid because during times of danger I manage not to break down and grieve."  I think this might be a potentially harmful thing to teach kids.  I know there have been times where I've taken the martyr role in my grieving or suffering as a child and I would have been better off to just cry and let my mom hold me instead of keeping it inside. 

It's strange because I find myself more emotional as an adult than I ever did as a child, but then I lived in a very emotionally heavy household with one parent who was incapable of dealing with my emotions, and one who was so busy dealing with everyone else's that I just wanted to give her a break.  Even after my father and brother were removed from the household I felt unable to unburden myself to my mother, which led to a lot of time spent alone when I felt sad that might have been improved by someone else's presence. 

Today I'm almost always on the verge of tears, and every now and again I go to my fiance and let him comfort me and reassure me.  It's terrible that it's taken me over ten years to find someone else to take on this role for me, I should have allowed more people into my life, but reading all those adventure stories where the heroes and heroines aren't allowed to cry, where a lack of emotion was seen as a boon rather than a potentially crippling emotional flaw (which, trust me, it is), made me slow to open up.  This probably prevented me from making a lot of friends, which was difficult enough due to moving around every couple of years.

So someone tell me, why don't we have main characters who are so stricken by grief that they curl up into balls in their bedrooms for hours at a time before picking themselves back up and facing the world?  Is it because crying isn't romantic enough?  I can tell you one thing, I feel closer to characters who mirror my emotions more than I do the ones who remain stoic under all circumstances no matter what.  I read to be reminded of my humanity, not to be whisked into a world of wooden characters and flat emotions.

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