Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World

Konigsburg, E.L. 2007. The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World.

Last week was a somewhat weird reading week, I read a series of books all in a row--Eggs, Tamar, and The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World--that I was all iffy about. Each had strong elements. But each one had just one or two things that made me hesitate about saying that I loved them...or in some cases saying that I enjoyed them. I liked The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World. But I don't think I can say I loved it. But I am glad I read it.

Amedeo Kaplan has just moved to a new town and..."For the first time in his life Amedeo was dealing with being the new kid in school, the new kid in town, and finding out that neither one made him special. Quite the opposite. Being new was generic at Lancaster Middle School. The school itself didn't start until sixth grade, so every single one of his fellow sixth-graders was a new kid in school, and being new was also common because St. Malo was home to a lot of navy families, so for some of the kids at Lancaster Middle School this was the third time they were the new kid in town. The navy seemed to move families to any town that had water nearby--a river, a lake, a pond, or even high humidity--so coming from a famous port city like New York added nothing to his interest quotient. Amedeo was beginning to think that he had been conscripted into AA. Aloners Anonymous. No one at Lancaster Middle School knew or cared that he was new, that he was from New York, that he was Amedeo Kaplan." (2)

Amedeo is a likeable character. He is easy to relate to. Who hasn't at times felt like they were in Aloners Anonymous? (Especially at the age!) And as the book goes on, Amedeo's search for a good friend or two becomes interesting. The main characters of the book are William Wilcox, a boy his own age who happens to live in the neighborhood, and an eccentric old neighbor, a lady, Mrs. Zender, and his godfather, Peter Vanderwaal.

Mrs. Wilcox, William Wilcox, and Amedeo are cleaning, sorting, and organizing Mrs. Zender's estate as she is preparing to move to a retirement community. Each room, each item has a story it seems. And the woman is very particular. At times she's likeable. But at others, she is very aloof. Very strange. Not quite within reach. Each day after school, William and Amedeo go to Mrs. Zender's house and help out. They enjoy searching for treasures. Both hope to make a great find. Especially Amedeo.

But the book isn't narrated by Amedeo alone. It isn't his story alone. The chapters alternate between Amedeo, middle schooler, and Peter Vanderwaal, art dealer. It was harder for me to connect with this storyline. I knew that eventually--probably three-fourths through the book--there would be a great aha moment when the narratives would begin to come together and make sense. But it was a long journey. Peter is considerably older than Amedeo of course. He runs an art gallery of some sort, I believe. (Or else maybe an art museum??? Anyway, he displays art and has art shows). His narrative has him returning home for his father's funeral, returning with a box of his father's belongings, and working diligently on a new show that will be opening featuring some of the Degenerate Art as deemed by the Nazi party.

So you've got two settings. Two narrators. More than a few story lines and plots floating around. Overall, I liked the story. I really enjoyed some aspects of it. I liked some characters better than others. I liked some elements better than others.

This isn't your typical book. This book isn't about a typical middle schooler who is trying to make friends, trying to avoid the school bully, and complaining about homework or teachers or parents. This is a 'unique' boy with unique interests. I typically love books where young people--teens and kids--befriend the older generation. I love intergenerational novels. But this wasn't even that. It had some elements of that, but really all you can say about it is that it's in a category all by itself.


Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

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.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge
Linked to sign up page

Family Tree Reading Challenge

Family Tree Reading Challenge
Link to sign-up page

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge
Linked To Sign Up Page

2018 Charity Challenge (Sign Up)

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge
Link to sign up page

2018 Picture Book Challenge

2018 Picture Book Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge
click image to go to sign up post

Good Rules Cheat List

Board books and picture books = new is anything published after 2013
Early readers and chapter books = new is anything published after 2013
Contemporary (general/realistic) = new is anything published after 2007
Speculative fiction (sci-fi/fantasy = new is anything published after 2007
Classics = anything published before 1968
Historical fiction = new is anything published after 2007
Mysteries = new is anything published after 1988
Nonfiction = new is anything published after 2007
Christian books = new is anything published after 2000
Bibles = new is anything published after 1989

My Blog List

(Old) Challenge Participants

Becky's Hosting These Challenges

100 Books Project: Fill in the Gaps

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP