What was the best book you read in October?
I find the 'best book of X' questions to be very challenging, since it's usually out of about 2, and both of them good, but not superawesome. This month I read 6 books, Ash, by Malinda Lo, which was great, but not best, 4 Cat Who books (Lilian Jackson Braun), which were fun and awesome. (I realized that I don't read them for the murder mysteries. I actually don't like murder mysteries. I read them for the 'revitalization of a northern small town community' stories, which are great!) And The Book Thief, (Marcus Zusak) which I admired, but didn't love.
I was two pages in before I started to cry.
Real is an incredibly powerful story. At its heart, it's about basketball, wheelchair and two-legged. It's also about how the love of something can bring meaning to a life otherwise hopeless. It is entirely about boys. It's very real in its male relationships and attitudes, and still, boys can cry and give up, and try and fail to be adults. And the protagonists are young adults, kids, really, even 17, 18, 19, 20, just trying to figure out how to build a life that's worth living.
Interestingly enough, the most helpless hopeless dude in the book, has full use of all his limbs. Compared to his friend in the wheelchair, he's far more paralyzed, because he has no place and has no hope for the future.
I was reading the thread on edgy YA yesterday, at AW Watercooler, and it was making me sad and upset, because everyone was going on about, "well, teens experience sex and violence and drugs and shit, so why shouldn't we write about that." I just feel like it's missing the point. Real is edgy YA. But what makes it powerful isn't the grittiness, or the stupid decisions, or the death and loss and inability to communicate, it's about finding meaning and purpose in a cruel world.
I think it's the difference between the sensational and the sublime (Ruskin's use of the term). The sensational includes all the awful things and goes, "Oh no, they're so awful, isn't this world a terrible place?" But the sublime doesn't shy away from any of those awful things. It faces them head on, and says, "Yeah, these are the awful things, and they can show you just how wonderful this world can be, the people in it, their weaknesses and their strengths, beautiful and terrible at the same time. Awful, in all senses of the word."
Real is sublime.