Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Wishing...for something else.

Something that continues to surprise me as I read the Cybils YA long list is the sheer amount of historical fiction. Now, if you are at all familiar with my reading habits, I have a great deal of affection for this genre. I have had, I think, since sixth grade when I read The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (this also sparked my love of kids-stuck-on-ships books, which has been well expounded here). Once thing that makes historical fiction wonderful is that the time period chosen is necessary to telling the story; the setting should have as much presence as the characters. Otherwise, why bother? Which is kind of the question I now want to ask Celia Rees.

It's the conventional coming-of-age story taking place largely over one summer, with the future events providing closure for that summer. Richard is 15 and his older summer pal is no longer kid enough to hang out with him, so Richard goes off on his own returning to an abandoned house that is now occupied. He becomes entwined with the bohemian family and enraptured with their daughter. Richard isn't treated very well, but he learns a lot.

The Wish House's primary action occurs in 1976 England, in flashbacks from 1982. With the exception of some punk-rock styles in '82 & perhaps the Bohemian er... lifestyle of the artistic Dalton family in '76, I don't feel the setting as a presence in the book. But this certainly raises the question of whether the setting needs to have a presence. What do you think?

Still like Rees's Pirates! best.

For those who need it: Definitely for older teens. At times very risque, lots of nudity, lots of sex & drug use.

Cybills tally: 26/80

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