"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Essential Maps for the Lost

Madison (Mads) has her life mapped out for her. She even graduated early from high school to get going on her plan. She will take a Real Estate broker class in Seattle during the Spring and Summer and then, after passing and getting her licence, she will return to Eastern Washington to join her mother's Real Estate firm as a full partner. The papers have been drawn up for the merger, they are awaiting Mads return. Business cards have been printed. The only problem is that Mads doesn't want to travel around on this map. She wants to chart her own voyage, one where she is free to make some decisions for her own life not those dictated to her by her overbearing, narcissistic mother. Then one day Mads decides to take a swim in Lake Union between her real estate class and her babysitting job and to her horror she bumps into the body of a woman, a dead woman, a woman who committed suicide by jumping from one of Seattle's many bridges. Mads hauls the body to shore and then, over the course of several weeks/months, she finds her feelings all tangled up with the dead woman and she starts to spend all her sleepless nights looking on the Internet for anything related to the woman, including her son, Billy. When Mads meets Billy she doesn't tell him she was the swimmer who brought his mother's body ashore and this secret just about swamps her.

But Billy has a few secrets of his own. One thing that drives him nearly crazy is people who neglect their dogs and he often finds himself rescuing dogs from their own yards. As Billy and Mads get to know each other, as their feelings for each other start to blossom they both find it hard not to be overwhelmed by other feelings of despair and loneliness. Will their love offer them a map through which they can navigate through their lives?

Since I listened to the book and I couldn't see the sentences, I have to guess that the majority of them are very short, almost clipped. The characters in Essential Maps for the Lost seemed to be purposely at arms length from the readers due to the short, clipped-sounding sentences.  It was particularly evident during the chapters from Mads' point of view. It was as if Mads didn't know herself, as if she were viewing herself from afar, also. I bet it was intentionally done by the author. Mads really didn't know herself and was lost in her own suffering. She was holding her wants and needs at arms length. Brilliant. (I get excited when I figure things out as I am writing.)

The ending of this book was one to savor and I did by rereading the good parts several times. Some of the earlier parts of the book seemed to drag a bit or seem redundant. But the characters were interesting and fresh. Billy is by far the more lovable/likable of the two main characters. The voice in his head that keeps him moving forward, the doctor, always has sage advise on how to proceed. Mads, on the other hand, is pretty hard to like, unless you pay attention to the way she treats Ivy, her babysitting charge. She is very gentle, attentive, and loving to this toddler. Mads is so unhappy with the future she sees for herself that she contemplates suicide when she reaches her lowest points. The ogres in her head are not as kind or as helpful as Billy's doctor. At the crisis point of the book both teens have to make decisions which will impact their futures. Will it be together or not?

The theme of maps was a fun little thread which was pulled through the whole story. Mads, not from the Seattle area, kept getting lost or was taken places by her uncle's truck, as if the truck had a map in its guidance system by which it navigated to important spots. Billy carried a map in his wallet. It came from the middle of the book, From the Mixed of Files of Mrs. Basil  E. Frankweiler, his mother's favorite book. Mads was so depressed she felt like only a map could help her find her way to safety, but she needed one which pointed to the way OUT. A map even becomes a gift of forgiveness.

I found the book to be very satisfying, a cry-worthy, thoughtful book. I will recommend it often to my readers who like love stories and/or books where the characters are in crisis. Students at my school will likely enjoy the local references. Most area students have spent a lot of time in Seattle, just an hour away, and we know many of the landmarks mentioned within its pages. The pacing issues will likely keep this book out of serious consider for the Printz Award, however.

Source: E-Audiobook from the public library.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
2017 Printz Award Contenders

30 / 35 books. 85% done!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the heads up about the clipped sentences. I have this one on my tbr.


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