Friday, February 26, 2010

Blue Plate Special


Blue Plate Special by Michelle D. Kwasney. 2009. Chronicle Books. 366 pages.

"Register four is now open with no waiting," a ceiling voice booms, interrupting the Stevie Wonder tune playing over the intercom.

Wow. It's a bit surprising how wow-worthy this one is. If you're looking for something compelling, something almost impossible to put down, then you should pick this one up and give it a try. It's so well-written, so intense, so good.

Is it a little too dramatic? Well, you'll have to be the judge of that. It worked for me. And here's why it worked for me. I cared. About the characters. About the unfolding family drama. Blue Plate Special is the story of three women, three generations. Madeline (1977), Desiree (1993) and Ariel (2009). Three women who could learn a lot from each other. If they are willing to listen, to understand, to forgive. Not that forgiveness comes easy. Not that compassion does either. But each story was compelling. Each in its own way. How could I choose which narrator worked best for me? Each voice was so unique. (Especially Desiree's narrative which was written in verse.)

Relationships. Between mothers and daughters. Between boyfriends and girlfriends. Between friends. Life is complex. Relationships are complex. And sometimes you can't know what's going on behind the scenes, behind closed doors.

There were so many things done right in Blue Plate Special. It's a coming-of-age novel that authentically represents some of the harder issues of living life in an unfair world. A world where parents make mistakes too. It's a heartbreaking novel. One that could be a bit too much for some readers perhaps. But while tragic definitely comes to mind when describing this one, so does the word unforgettable.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

3 comments:

Amanda 2:41 PM  

I loooooved this one! And really wanted it to win the Cybil. Oh well.

Lisa Schroeder 5:32 PM  

I was waiting to see what you thought of this one. I had no idea what it was about, but Jo Knowles, who I really respect, loved it, so I picked it up. Pretty soon I was engrossed in these three lives, not knowing if or how or even whether they intertwined. SOOO good.

Emidy 10:05 PM  

This seems excellent! And that cover is very familiar to me... I must have seen it some place else. I need to find this one in the library!

Emidy
Une Parole

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

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