Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Whirligig by Paul Fleischman

The last few days have been wicked. Viruses for both computers and for me, wrapping things up for the composition course I teach, and an AP Literature exam coming up for some of my students. I slept about twelve hours last night and could still find it in me to give sleep a few more hours. But in that time I’ve managed to do some reading. Of course. :)

I’ve been working off book recommendations lately, and I had one given to me by a teacher after I started discussing Stargirl with her. I grabbed Whirligig by Paul Fleischman, off the shelf, started it that night, caught some type of plaque and could not get off the couch, then finished it over the weekend.

First, you can find some reading on whirligigs at Wikipedia here.

I must admit. I harbor mixed feelings about this one. My three points.

1. Too ambitious? I wasn’t prepared for the serious nature of this work, the heavy topics of drunken driving, suicide, and accidental murder that were revealed in the first chapter. It did take me by surprise. Once I got where the novel was going, though, I willingly paid my ticket and held on for the ride. Yet as I read on I craved more. I hoped for a more visceral reaction but it felt a little disconnected to me and I never quite got that “Oh, wow” moment.

2. However, kudos on issues. The real big shout out from me on this one is handling such topics at all. I think there might be a tendency to shy away from these topics because, perhaps, this makes it too easy to see certain behaviors as okay or condone actions or promise quick redemption. Whirligig did a fantastic job of handling events in such a way as to avoid this.

3. A little more character development prior to might have been nice. If the reader meets Brent, the main character, earlier in the action and is able to get a real handle on this character in a deep way, a large scope, perhaps that “aha” type moment would have been there. I wanted to know Brent before the tragedy. I wanted to understand the decisions he made a little more than he was just embarrassed and upset at a party. That seemed too simple to me.

Overall, yeah, I would recommend it. Was it one of my favorites? Nope.

Today’s word: despondent meaning depressed.

Today I am despondent due to my cold, my computer, and the fact it’s only Tuesday…

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