Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Year the Music Changed...

It's been a good long while since I afforded myself the luxury of sitting down and devouring a book in one fell swoop. Yesterday afternoon, I indulged and read The Year the Music Changed by Diane Thomas in the chunk of time between meeting the school bus and dinner time. All in all a nice afternoon....

I had read an early review of the book, and it sounded promising, so I put it on reserve at the library and then promptly forgot about it. (This happens frequently...) Yesterday afternoon, when I went to the library and it was waiting there for me, there was a moment of "What is this again?" Then, when I started browsing through it, my initial instinct was "Ugh - what was I thinking?" You see, TYTMC is a novel written entirely in the format of letters - correspondence between 14 year old Achsa McEachern and a 20 year-old Elvis Aron Presley.

This device, unspooling a story via correspondence, is one that I've only been exposed to in chick-lit. Which I read from time to time, I'll admit. (although to be honest, I read just about any- and everything. I am all over the place when it comes to reading. Although I do have a particular soft spot for any sort of Southern novel or short-story.) And whereas there are a few chick-lit books that have done a fairly nice job with this format (Cecilia Ahern's Rosie Dunne, and some of the Meg Cabot books come to mind as more readable examples) it always wears thin and begins to grate. I often think that any story that can be told using this contrivance would be just as well told without it.

However, in TYTMC, I quickly quit noticing the gimmick and just got caught up in the characters. I won't bore you by attempting to review or critique the book - I'm no writer and anytime I try to review anything - book, movie, or restaurant - it just comes out horribly wrong and stilted. There are a number of fine folk over at Amazon who can do a better job of putting into words what is good about this story. All I wanted to say was that I truly enjoyed spending the afternoon with Achsa and Elvis - and if you are in the mood for a deftly written, beautifully descriptive story, I recommend it.

No comments: