Saturday, October 06, 2007
One for Sorrow
Barzak, Christopher. 2007. One for Sorrow.
An honest and uncanny ride through the shadows between grief and acceptance. This is how real magic works. --Scott Westerfeld, author of Uglies and Extras
The Westerfeld blurb is one of the reasons I picked up One For Sorrow. I trust Westerfeld. I trust that when he says a book is good, it delivers. I wasn't disappointed with his recommendation this time either. Barzak's story is an odd one I'll admit. It's part ghost-story. The average teenage boy doesn't interrupt his life to become best friends with a ghost and relegate that relationship above all others--even the relationship with his girlfriend/lover. But the story is well-written. Adam McCormick is from a dysfunctional family. His grandmother tried and tried to warn the family that trouble was heading their way, but the only one who paid her any attention was Adam. Then she died. Adam was the one to discover her body in bed. His parents fight ALL the time. His mother and father just don't get it or don't care how their fighting is affecting the rest of the family. There is no respect, no love, no compassion in that household holding this family together. The brother, Andy, is just as bad. All four members of the McCormick family have issues--issues with respect, with anger, with courtesy. The book begins with the murder of one of Adam's classmates, Jamie Marks. The day that his body is discovered by yet another classmate, Gracie Highsmith, is a day that will change his life--his family's life forever. After an argument, his mother in a fit of rage gets behind the wheel to head to the local bar...little knowing that Lucy Hall a drunk who had escaped her own marital problems earlier in the morning was barreling towards her on a collision course. The accident left Mrs. McCormick paralyzed. Talk about adjustments for the family! Within a matter of weeks: Adam is discovered naked in the grave of the murdered student, Jamie; his mother becomes best friends with Lucy; Adam drops out of school completely and gets a lover/girlfriend practically overnight. About the time that he discovers these "sunflower" moments of intimacy he begins to see Jamie on a regular basis. Adam balances his time between hanging out with the living and the dead. Playing video games with a ghost versus making out with his girlfriend while her parents are gone. But then as if it wasn't odd enough already, the ghost starts planning to runaway with Adam. He encourages him to leave the insanity of his home and begin a new adventure with him. Something that sounds all too tempting to Adam who can barely stand to be in the same room with his family. What Adam is searching for is someone who loves him and accepts him and understands him.
Life and death and everything in between. That is what this novel is about. Life is full of choices, and day by day Adam is reaching the point where he'll have to make the big decision--whether he wants to live or die.
What the characters all reveal in one way or another is that while life is far from perfect--in fact it is very messy and raw and ugly--it is WORTH living. Troubles may weigh you down, sorrow may have a hold on you, but it's good to be alive to feel even the pain and sorrow and confusion of life.
Another review of One for Sorrow
More information on One for Sorrow and Christopher Barzak