Saturday, December 15, 2012

Book Recommendation: "Cracked Up to Be" by Courtney

I don't even know what to say about this book. I read it on Wednesday night, even though I had to wake up at 2:00 AM to catch a bus to the airport. The characters were incredibly complex and multidimensional, to the point where they felt like real people. (You hear that a lot, but never from me.) And just like with real people, there were times when I related to them and times where I wanted to scream at them. I felt things. Like feelings. And I'm one of the most detached readers you will ever meet.

And something I respected? It wasn't just that Parker was one of those "complex and unlikable" characters I've been looking for. It's because the text and the author never forced me to feel a certain way about Parker.

Here is a quote from Courtney Summers' amazing post on unlikable female protagonists:

"That is why reader response fascinates me; being told by people exactly what they think Parker and Regina do and don’t deserve is probably one of the most gratifying things I’ve experienced in having these books published. I don’t think anyone is wrong in what they feel about either of those girls, whether they hate them or they don’t. But I love when they feel strongly about it and I love when they feel strongly enough about it to tell me.

Finally, do I think readers should like Parker and Regina? As I said, that’s up to the reader and that’s all there is to it. As I said, I have hopes that people will respond to my work whether they like it or hate it (indifference is what terrifies me!), but the last thing I will do is tell someone how they should respond. There are no “right” or “wrong” ways to feel about Parker and Regina."

I couldn't say whether or not I "dislike" Parker (as a character, I found her compelling and and very relatable), but there are certain actions she takes that are more than just bitchy--they're downright selfish. At the end of the novel, it is revealed that although the murder was in no way her fault (and that there was no way she could have prevented it), she never told anyone what she knew about the night Jessie disappeared. Think about that from the point of view of Jessie's family, who must have been desperate for any news regarding their daughter--in not saying anything, Parker did a horrible thing. That's not saying she's a bad person--it was a big mistake, though somewhat of an understandable one--but I did appreciate how Parker wasn't given a 'get-out-of-jail-free' card.

I don't know how I've gone this long without reading a Courtney Summers novel, but I'm going to go buy all of her other books. Like, right now.

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