Saturday, 30 May 2015

Review: Fairy, Texas by Margo Bond Collins

I'm entirely confused about the cover,
having read the book and all,
but it looks nifty.
If every I've come to you with mixed feelings, it's today. Well, and that time I reviewed the book about the modern retelling of the Phantom of the Opera in a dance school environment. Incidentally, Im torn for some of the same reasons.

To start with, here's a quick run down on what Fairy, TX is about.
Laney Harris thinks there might be monsters in Fairy, Texas.

She's right.

When her mother remarried and moved them to a town where a date meant hanging out at the Sonic, Laney figured that "boring" would have a whole new meaning. A new stepsister who despised her and a high school where she was the only topic of gossip were bad enough. But when she met the school counselor (and his terminal bad breath), she grew suspicious. Especially since he had wings that only she could see. And then there were Josh and Mason, two gorgeous glimmering-eyed classmates whose interest in her might not be for the reasons she hoped. Not to mention that dead guy she nearly tripped over in gym class.

Boring takes on an entirely new dimension in Fairy, Texas.

If she's going to survive in this small town, she'll have to learn to wing it.

Got it? What could possibly simultaneously give me pause and endear this title?

Well, let's start with endear. Many moons ago, I relocated from a relatively urban setting to a minuscule town in Texas, and it might as well have been Fairy. It was tiny. Rumours bloomed out of the bluebonnets and were carried along on the wind. You only had to walk into a new business and suddenly everyone would tell you who you were, where you came from, and whose house you'd moved into. Note, as a transplant, it was never going to be your house. It would forever be "Lola Jenkins' house." After all, it's not like transplants thrived there.

So when I first delved into Fairy, Texas, I was immediately taken by how well Margo Bond Collins captures the experience of an urban girl moving to the middle of Nowhere, just twenty miles out of Never Gonna Be Nowhere. It was familiar and difficult, and not overplayed.

The main character, Laney, manages to have enough snark that she seems like her own person, but just enough blandness that it's easy to identify with her. That said, she does fall back on some of my least favorite women in literature flaws- she follows the lead of the men guiding her, even when she's bucking their authority on the surface and questioning the rationality of their suggestions, there she is, doing as they asked and letting the plot happen to her. I admit, I like a girl who saves herself earlier than later.

Laney has a strong voice through the story, which is written from a perspective I haven't run into much lately. She tells her tale in the first person conversational past. Basically, it's like sitting down with a good friend you desperately need to catch up with and listening to her narrate what happened not so long ago, only with hindsight commentary thrown in for effect. If nothing else, even at the most tense of moments, it reminds you "hey, she has to live to be talking to me right now," and "at least she never lost her sense of humor." It's not a perspective I read often, and certainly more accessible than the times when I have run into it (see: House of Leaves), and that's rather refreshing.

Now, the down points. The stereotypical tropeyness is strong, so if that bothers you, be advised. But most importantly, do not read this for book club unless you're prepared for book club to turn into a full on discussion about rape culture, women's bodies as commodities, slut shaming, religious and cultural gender based subjugation, patriarchy, expendability, and whether or not using near rape as a means of building trust is skeevy.

So yeah, it's paranormal and interesting, and I read it in one sitting. It is a page turner, but at times I felt guilty for reading about the abuses suffered by the various characters, for my entertainment. Of course, I was entertained (maybe guilty pleasure level entertained?) so at least they didn't suffer for nothing, right?

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