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Elena Likes Books

I am an avid reader of YA, fantasy, and romance, a librarian, and a writer of fantasy short fiction.

Currently reading

Cut & Run
Abigail Roux, Madeleine Urban
Where the Sidewalk Ends
Shel Silverstein
The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination: Original Short Fiction for the Modern Evil Genius
John Joseph Adams
The Thousand Names
Django Wexler
The Duchess Hunt
Jennifer Haymore
Seek - Paul Fleischman This ended up being a bizarrely personal read for me. I say "bizarrely" because in the usual way of things, this is precisely the kind of book I least enjoy reading: experimental style that causes distance from the characters, boring old mainstream fiction (I tend to prefer fantasy), not much of a plot, no action to speak of. Nevertheless, my reading experience was so personal, in fact, that what follows is hardly even a review, but more an explorations of my own past and how it intertwined with my reading of this novel.I think this is the first book I've ever read about a fatherless kid whose father isn't dead. Oh, there are books about adopted kids, kids who's dads took off post-divorce and just send cards for birthdays, kids who have deadbeat dads who just show up every once in a while and then disappear again, kids whose dads are abusive or drug users, etc. etc. There are plenty of negligent fathers in YA fiction. But this is the only book I've read that approximated my own situation: a father who couldn't handle the idea of fatherhood and took off before the kid was even born, never to be heard from again.I found I could empathize with Rob intensely, not because of any real characteristics of the story (I still maintain that bizarre stylistic choices like the one Fleschman made here only distance readers) but because his experiences mirrored my own in many ways, right down to his feeling supplanted in his mother's affections when she has her first serious relationship when he's in high school (for me, it was middle school) and the way he reacts when his father finally does show up. (My dad still hasn't bothered with any mysterious out-of-the-blue phone calls, but I'd imagine my reaction would be pretty similar to Rob's.)As I read the story, I found myself caught up in the ways in which my own experiences were similar to or contrasted with Rob and his relationship to the idea of his father, and I was stunned at how, well, true it was. This book didn't have much plot. There was zero action. There wasn't even much drama. This is how life actually is.In the opening of the third Aladdin movie (shut up, I was an Aladdin fanatic as a kid), there's this song about how Aladdin grew up without a dad and how he'll never be a man and be able to marry Jasmine and start a family of his own until he finally finds his father and discovers what kind of man he'll be. My 12-year-old self nearly ripped the tape out of the VCR and threw it against the wall. I grew up without a dad, and I certainly don't feel some giant, gaping lack of father figure in my life. In fact, like Rob in Seek, I felt really resentful when a man moved in and started monopolizing my mom's time. Would I have liked to sit down and have a conversation with my father about what an asshole he was? Yes. Would never having that conversation have an adverse effect on how I lived the rest of my life? Hell no. But most fictional representations of kids with only one parent basically convey the message that you can't be a whole person unless you have (or have had in the past) two parents, and that pisses me off.This book didn't piss me off.(At least not on that count. I still maintain that if Fleischman wanted to tell his story using sounds, he should have just released it as an audiobook and not done this weird textual representation of something that isn't meant to be text. *cough*)