Skip to main content

Book 19 - Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman

<

This is Tupelo Hassman's first work, and boy is it powerful. The story focuses on Rory Dawn (also affectionately known as R.D. - a nickname bestowed upon her by her maternal grandmother). It is told in bits and pieces, a novel that has some plot line but is mostly comprised of short stories that deal with the same characters. Rory lives in the Nevada desert (somewhere outside of Reno) with her mother, Jo, in a trailer. You learn shortly that R.D. has 4 older half brothers but doesn't know their father or her own father (at least she knows their father's name). Jo works as a bartender at the local truck stop and combats a nasty alcohol habit as well as a habit of picking up the wrong men. Her grandmother also has an addictive personality and cannot, for the life of her, stop gambling or smoking.

R.D. desperately wants to be a Girl Scout and takes out the Girl Scout Handbook from the library so often, that her name is the only name on the checkout slip. There are no troops in her poor town, so she has to live through the handbook and, essentially, creates a troop comprised of herself and her imaginary friend, Viv. They often compete for badges. There is also tales of abuse and neglect, interspersed with reports from a social worker, test questions and excerpts from the Girl Scout Handbook.

This is book that deals with judgment - mostly the judgement that people have toward people of lower economic classes and R.D.'s fear of it. It also deals poignantly with ideas of loneliness and belonging and independence, but is so depressing in dealing with these themes (but that could be because of what I do for work and my hope that I can use reading as an escape from this, so a book like this wasn't really an escape). This book is gritty and detailed in ways that are sometimes painful and often uncomfortable to read. I really enjoyed that Hassman wrote the book, mostly, in R.D.'s voice because I was able to get a connection to her - it was like she was talking to me about her life or writing me letters or I was reading her diary - so the mechanism for telling the story was powerful and effective. I liked how Hassman had some confidence that we could connect the dots and imagine the horror of R.D.'s existence. And R.D. is a FANTASTIC character.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

In Memoriam

One of my most favorite bookish podcasts, Books on the Nightstand, has ended its tremendously successful run.  It has been around seemingly forever and was one of my staples in book recommendations. It will be sorely missed and leaves a space in my podcast listening zone that I'm striving to fill.  While I understand that the podcast em-cees, Michael and Anne, have their own lives that they probably want to continue with (and podcasting takes a lot of time, particularly when you're as popular as they are and, for example, as popular as the Manic Mommies are/were), they will be sorely missed.  However you can find them on both Goodreads and on Twitter.

In anticipation of their ultimate decision to end the podcast, I found a number of other really awesome podcasts to fill the void, some of which are bookish and some of which aren't.  For your listening pleasure:


BookRiot - more of a news in the publishing industry podcast but still pretty awesome;All the Books - a weekly po…

Missoula by Jon Krakauer

You may recognize the author's name - Krakauer is perhaps most famous for the book Into the Wild about a young man that goes to Alaska (and which was made into a movie).  I enjoyed that book and when I heard on a podcast that I listen to that Krakuer had written a new book, I decided to get it and read it.  In this book, which is non fiction - he focuses on the University of Montana, the local police department and at the local prosecutor's office and analyzes their job performances through the eyes of five young women who were sexually assaulted. During this same period, the Department of Justice investigated how those same parties handled 80 rape cases and that investigation yielded dismaying results. In one instance, a detective re assured a male suspect during an interrogation that she didn't believe he committed a rape (despite evidence to the contrary) because they got a lot of false accusations. Similarly, the Chief of Police (!!!) sent an article to a victim citin…

City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin

I was hesitant to pick up Justin Cronin's trilogy, which began with The Passage, because I was vampired out.  But it's different. It combines science fiction and westerns and spans about 1500 pages and 1000 years and generations, upon generations of people.  It's dystopian and hopeful all at the same time! The vampires don't sparkle, thankfully, and the story isn't just told in prose - it's told via letters, journals, scientific journals, flashback, the whole nine yards.
As the book opens, we find our beloved characters in a time of peace and relative prosperity.  There have been no viral attacks for twenty years. The main characters are all struggling with something that has broken them and they each struggle. And there was also Zero, the ultimate bad guy, that wants his say and his ultimate revenge. This book is wonderful in the sense that it is Cronin at his absolute best - he is a storyteller on par with perhaps the best of the fantasy writers - of any w…