Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Delicate Edible Birds
by Lauren Groff
Adult Short Stories
I'm not a short story person. I prefer novels, and I actually don't think I've read a book of short stories in about 6 years (excluding the ones I read in college). I gave this one a try, though, because I loved The Monsters of Templeton and I knew that I was going to meet Lauren Groff. I am so glad I read it. Short stories are just a different reading experience, and these are like miniature novels. The characters are incredibly well-developed, and each of the nine stories has its own flavor and feel. They didn't necessarily convert me to short story-lover, though--I don't think any other collection could compare to this one.

The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak
Young Adult (??) Historical Fiction
This book is wonderful: powerful, nuanced, epic, poignant, heartwrenching, and all of that. It's a novel of Hitler's Germany, where a young girl is put into foster care and watches her country change while her new family is formed. Death tells the story, so life and death are powerful motifs throughout the narrative. For over a year I've been ordering The Book Thief for book clubs and shelving copies in the young adult section, where it allegedly belongs. However, I had noted that very few young adults actually bought or read the book, and finally my curiosity overcame me and I read it. After finishing the book, I was surprised by how vehemently I opposed its categorization as Young Adult Fiction. It isn't. The main character, Liesel Meminger, is 9 when the book begins and 14 when it ends--but this does not a YA make. This is the kind of book that requires a lot of life experience, and a sophisticated understanding of life and death, to truly appreciate: while Liesel sees things through young eyes, there's a certain amount of contextualization required. In my experience, no one under the age of 14 has enjoyed the book. Thoughts, anyone?
(And Markus Zusak, did you intend this book to be YA or Adult Fiction??)


Emmaco said...

Hey Jake, over here from John Green's blog. Book Thief was actually published as an adult book in Australia (where it was first published) but I guess the publishers must have thought it would do better as a YA in the USA. It has sold very well as a YA so it's interesting that you've observed more adults reading it! I think they've published it as two editions in the UK.

A Million Words said...

Hey thanks for the info!