Saturday, May 7, 2011

True (...Sort of) by Katherine Hannigan

Every once in a while there is a character that you, as the reader, 'get' immediately. Unfortunately, nobody else in the boko seems to. Other characters see the outward actions, put their own assumptions on what was behind them, and judge accordingly. And usually wrongly. You want to reach in and grab up that character and wrap your arms around her, comforting her and protecting her from all those condemning adults (and kids) in her fictional world.*

*Note from the turtles: Miss Ami, our typist, is 97 months pregnant and feeling hormonal and maternal, and that may be rubbing off on us just a bit.

At any rate, Hannigan has deftly created just such a character in Delly. Her problems are summed up in this exchange with her younger brother:
Then RB was shouting, "Just quit getting in trouble. Just quit it!"
"I'm not trying to get in trouble!" she shouted back.
RB knew that was true. "What ARE you trying to do?" he asked.
She thought about it. "Have fun. Do something good. Except when I fight."
He said it quiety, so she wouldn't slug him too hard: "Maybe you should try something different."
She didn't smack him. Instead, she rasped, "I don't know how to be...not me."
(pg. 73 HC)
Sometimes it seems the harder you try to improve your character, the more the world seems to conspire against you. Delly wants to "be good", she wants to make her mother proud, she wants to stay out of trouble, but...

Delly is not the only vivid character in the book. With just a few words, we feel we know many of the other characters as if we'd been watching them for years. Hannigan is adept at showing us rather than telling us about someone, whether by their actions, their thoughts, or their conversations. We would love to share an exchange between Delly and her mother as an example, but it might be too much of a spoiler - just nod and agree with us when you get to page 237 of the hardcover!

We loved Ida B (Hannigan's first, bestselling work), and think this one is ten times better. No pressure on the author, but we can't wait to see what comes next!