December 29, 2012 by lucieromarin
People change; books are forever. So, here are my favourites of this year – and part of what makes them favourites is that I’ll want to read them again next year.
1. ‘Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships’ by Janja Lalich and Madeleine Tobias.
Don’t panic. I’m not about to say that your or I or anyone else is in a cult, or that your faith is a lie! The authors’ attention is upon behaviour rather than beliefs, and their observations about manipulation, bullying, and varieties of mind-control are applicable across a range of situations. Some of those are applicable to us – more on this topic next year. Wait and see.
2. ‘Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls are Not for Sale’, by Rachel Lloyd.
This memoir tells the parallel stories of the author’s life in and escape from the sex industry, and the lives of the trafficked girls she has subsequently rescued from the same industry. She works specifically with domestically trafficked girls; that is, with American girls who have been given or sold by their parents into prostitution within America.
Reading it, I began to understand why so little help is available for domestically trafficked women. (I also realised that there needs to be a religious order or movement dedicated to the conversion of those who support the industry by buying or selling the girls, or by arguing in favour of its existence.)
Oh, I really, really want to say that Justin Cronin’s ‘The Passage’ comes first, because this vampire apocalypse novel drew me right in – and the end made me cry. The thing is…the sequel was atrocious. It was appalling, and, though it may seem unfair to judge a book by its sequel, the co-existence of both works demonstrates either that Cronin’s first book was only that good by accident, or that, for the sake of the second book, he was willing to sacrifice talent or discipline for the sake of…what? A deadline? You cannot do such a terrible injustice to your own book, and expect me to award you a shiny sticker! So…
1: ‘The Help’ by Kathryn Stockett. This novel (about African-American maids employed in white households in 1960s Mississippi) comes first, not because it Deals with Issues, but because I marvelled at the writer’s command of language and voice, at her ability to manage multiple narrators and to give them such life, simply by ‘owning’ (as it were) their dialects so completely.
Also, the pace was great – the mysteries appeared and were solved at just the right points (for me, anyway) – I never felt either frustrated or let-down; just hooked.
2. ‘Mary Bennet’, by Jennifer Paynter
An Australian wrote a good book! And it was Jane Austen fan-fiction! And it was better than P.D James’ ‘Death Comes to Pemberly’!
Mary Bennet’s character is usually reduced to caricature in film, and sometimes in fan-fiction, too. Here, she is real. The language is neither too modern nor too fake-Regency, and author doesn’t make the mistake, either, of thinking that a sympathetic protagonist must agree with the modern reader in all things. (Unlike Geraldine Brooks: The Marches were against slavery. I’m against slavery. I’m okay with pre-marital sex. Therefore they would have been okay with it, too).
So, that’s 2012 in books for me! What about you?