Or, more accurately, not reading Kim. Even more accurately, reading everything else except Kim. I’ve been trying to get into Rudyard Kipling’s adventure story, Kim, for awhile now. As seems to happen when I read 19th century literature, I’m having a bit of trouble getting going. The pacing and language are over 100 years old, and British to boot, so it’s not as accessible as most modern literature. Which is part of the allure…to look back at another time and place, to sort of get into the head of the author, get into the pacing of the time, all of that. But still. I’m at that early part in the book, page 38 I think, and at this point, I feel like I could take or leave the book. I’m not a huge fan of adventure stories. But seeing as how Kim was written during the colonial period of India, and takes place in India, I’m interested in reading about that, getting into the point of view of a British writer at the height of the British empire.
So. I’ve been distracted a few times lately. Reading books that aren’t on any of my reading challenges. Reading books that are light and fun and easy. Summer type reads, I guess. First, Maya has been asking me for awhile to read the Uglies trilogy, by Scott Westerfield. The books in the trilogy are Uglies, Pretties, and Specials, and tell the story of Tally, a young woman in a post-apocalyptic future where the majority of humans have been wiped out, and those that are left live in cities with a strong ‘big brother’ type government. Until you are 16, you are an Ugly. You live with your parents while very young, but then are sent to a dormitory in Uglyville, where you go to school and wait for the day that you will become Pretty. Because the average person is considered ugly. When you turn 16, you move to New Pretty Town, and have extensive surgery that makes you as beautiful as any supermodel. You live in New Pretty Town for a few years, partying at a mind-numbing rate, until you’re ready to settle down, and then you move out to the ‘burbs, where you raise children, and eventually move to Crumblyville, where the old people live. Tally is looking forward to the day that she will become a pretty. But she has become friends with Shay, a girl who doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with looking average, and wants to escape the surgery and the fate of living in New Pretty Town. Shay runs away to Smoke, an area out in the wilderness where there is a small community of runaways, living off of the land. Tally is sent out to find her and bring her back. Adventure follows. I enjoyed reading the trilogy, though I think Uglies was my favorite of the books. The Uglies trilogy is written for young adults, but I would recommend it for any adults who enjoy adventure books and stories of conspiracies and over-reaching governments. There were a few too many high action scenes for me in the later books. I got tired of reading chase scenes. But then again, I get tired of the Quiddich scenes in the Harry Potter movies, so take that with a grain of salt.
Next I found The Woman in the Wall when I took Maya to the library (hence I was in the YA section), and decided to give it a shot. This is the story of Anna, a girl who is so shy, she is practically invisible. Her own family often has trouble seeing her, even when she is sitting right in front of them. It is not unusual for others to sit on her, bump into her, etc., because she blends so completely into her surroundings. She hasn’t left the house in years. The world terrifies her. When her mother decides that it is time for her to attend school, 7 year old Anna panics, and builds herself a hidden area behind the walls of her very large Victorian house. She then disappears into the wall for the next several years, showing herself to her family only via repairs she does around the house, clothing she makes for her sisters, and food that she takes and eats. After awhile, her family almost forgets about her, to the point where her little sister isn’t even sure if she is real or not.
The story was well written and engaging, until the last few chapters. The resolution of the story came about so quickly and simply, it felt kind of like an episode of Star Trek, the Next Generation, when all is dire and unsolvable until the last 8 minutes, when suddenly a solution is found, and all turns out well.
I’ve heard a lot about Jennifer Weiner’s books. One of my sisters is a fan, as are a few of my bloggy and Facebook friends. I decided I’d like to read one more quick fun read before going back to poor neglected Kim. So I picked up Good In Bed, the story of Cannie Shapiro, a late 20-something Philadelphian writer who feels defined by her weight. She is a heavy woman, and suffers the indignities that go along with being large in modern America. Cannie recently broke up (actually, she simply wanted to take a break, but he thought it was permanent) with her long term boyfriend, Bruce, who shames her by writing about ‘Loving the Larger Woman’ in his magazine column titled Good In Bed. Cannie decides to join a weight loss group, sells a screenplay, travels to the West Coast, and tries to come to terms with missing Bruce. She didn’t miss him until he wrote the article, but now she misses him terribly. Cannie seems to take life in stride, until she is hit hard by a devastating turn of events that shakes her loose from her moorings, and threatens to be her undoing.
I liked this book, liked Cannie, liked the other characters who surrounded and supported her. It was a fun summer read, and likely I’ll pick up the sequel, Certain Girls, at some point. But right now, I think I’m ready for that 19th century voice again, and to see what adventures await Kim, a little white boy orphaned in India, following an ascetic priest on a search for enlightenment and adventure.