Saturday, July 3, 2010

Author Spotlight: Laura Wiess

I discovered one of Laura Wiess' books and wanted to read them all, and I think you'll feel the same way.

Leftovers follows best friends Blair and Ardith, who band together to do "something unforgivable" which might involve murder, but I didn't read long enough to find out. Why? Because this book made me cry in the third chapter. Heart-wrenching. But then, I cry a lot when I read. Not normally, but when I read...a lot. I would have kept going, but I was sitting at the circulation desk just then, and crying here is not such a great idea.

Poor Ardith is abused and neglected through her childhood and into adolescence. She is so damaged that the portions of the narrative she tells are in second person--in other words, she has no concrete identity and the trauma is enough that she deflects it to someone else--she says "you" instead of "I."

Blair, on the other hand, is in a nice house in a well-off neighborhood--with a mother who cares more about her career than Blair and a father who is more focused on his affair than his family. Blair's only real family, her dog, is stolen from her by her parents when the family moves to an even nicer house, breaking Blair's heart. And mine. That was when I stopped.

From the opening, the novel seems to be told in a manner similar to a confession, perhaps to the police or even to the girls' victim.

Such a Pretty Girl

Meredith's father was locked away in jail, sentenced to nine years in prison for raping her. However, instead of serving all nine years, he served three. Now he's coming home. Meredith's mother remains in staunch denial of her husband's crimes and Meredith, at fifteen, has nowhere else to go. Meredith has no choice but to save herself, and all the other children her father has hurt.

Believe me when I tell you that you will adore Meredith. She is such a strong, quirky, real narrator. I've seen her compared to Scout from Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. I would consider that an accurate parallel. Meredith will be your hero.

In How it Ends, all Hanna's wanted was to date Scott. When they finally start dating, what she imagined to be a fairy tale romance is in reality dark, cruel, and harsh. Hanna has no idea why Scott could treat her this way, and, bewildered, she remains in the relationship.

Hanna decides to spend time with her dying neighbor Helen, whose home was once Hanna's refuge. Now, though, her illness has made Helen a stranger. The two begin to listen to an audiobook, and Hanna is drawn to the story, changed by it, until suddenly it becomes frighteningly real.

You should note that a lot of the subject matter Wiess explores will appeal to fans of Ellen Hopkins--except these aren't written in verse. And--to my knowledge--no meth. Thank goodness for that. Fans of Because I am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas or Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott will also be drawn to Wiess' books.

If you want to read more about Laura Wiess or her books, you can visit her website and send her an e-mail, read excerpts, and so forth.

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