Welcome to Day 19 of the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge here at Reading on the F Train. Today's topic is Storyteller, The!
This is another one that I read for the Cybils but didn't post about. I don't typically post negative reviews but that's because I don't typically finish books I don't like. I tried to be fair to this one while also explaining my issues with the book.
The Storyteller by Antonia Michaelis
I guess I am just the absolutely wrong reader for this book. I'm not giving it a star rating because if not for the Cybils, I wouldn't have finished this one and therefore wouldn't be writing about it.
That's not to say that nothing about it was good. Some passages were really lovely, and I liked the relationship between Anna's mother and Abel's little sister. I know a lot of people really loved this one--after all, it did make it into the finalist round in a crowded field of Cybils nominees. So please take this as what it is--one reader's experience.
This book read very slowly for me, and I never really got emotionally invested. It was grim and dark and depressing, and at times I found the story pretty repellent. It really had me thinking about my stance on the role of morality (I guess? That feels like the wrong word) in YA lit--I can roll with the drinking (it is Europe, after all) and the drugs, and the violence, and even a certain character's other illegal activities, because it feels justified by the story. But there was one central event that was, for starters, really hard to read--and then the way it was resolved really felt upsetting and not-ok to me. (view spoiler)[When Abel raped Anna, the book suggested that the way for her to move past that was...to then go ahead and have consensual sex with him so that she could trust him again? Now, I would never tell a real-life trauma survivor that she was handling her trauma incorrectly, but as a fictional suggestion about how rape should or might be handled...this one seems potentially pretty damaging. It also was just hard for me, personally, to stomach. (hide spoiler)]
In short--I don't believe in censorship, and I wouldn't tell a kid NOT to read this book, but I also wouldn't stock it or recommend it to a young reader. It just didn't sit right with me.
But really, if this hadn’t been for the Cybils, I wouldn’t have gotten as far as any of that, because on top of everything else I was bored by this book. Like I said, though, many other readers disagree with me--so if you're in the mood for a dark, dark contemporary read with a fairytale woven into it, try it. You might feel differently.
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