Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bitter in the Mouth a satisfying Read

When I learned my local bookstore was offering a program to read and review novels prior to their release date I jumped at the chance! The first pick of mine was Bitter in the Mouth, a novel by Monique Truong, which is due out on bookshelves by the end of August.

I hungrily read this story of friendship and family, loss and discovery. As a reader, you cannot help but be drawn in by the speaker, Linda, and her tale of growing up different in the small town of Boiling Springs, North Carolina in the 1970's and eighties. Always playing the part of an outcast, you cannot help but to be intrigued by Linda and how she reacts to every day stimuli.

Linda can taste words. A fact which she works to hide from almost everyone but her best friend Kelly, whom she has exchanged daily letters with since the two were seven years old. As the years pass secrets begin to multiply between not just Linda and Kelly but also within Linda's family and even amongst others in the town- proof to the old saying that everyone has something to hide.

Soon it becomes apparent Linda's goal is to get away from this small town in pursuit of an education and a career, but she still remains unenlightened as to her own past and why she has this special sixth sense.

A family tragedy brings her back to Boiling Springs from the life she has made herself back North, and this is when she begins to learn the truth.

Now, perhaps it is a bit narrow-minded of me, but I feel as though quite a few of these secrets and events are contrived and implausible. Is there really such a person and a family who has gone through as much as Linda? Perhaps there is. I am sure many people have lived lives which to others would seem improbable if not impossible to imagine. I wonder if other readers will share my disbelief at some of the circumstances. Though I enjoyed the book I am left with a feeling that the book's integrity might be at stake because of this implausibility.

I suppose I should also say the book, as it stands at the time of my reading it (June 2010), still feels a little unpolished.

There are some glimpses of genius- some truly beautiful lines which I think truly show Truong's gift:
The night was temperate and full of stars. She had a full tank of gas. I had twenty dollars in my wallet. We felt like we could go someplace and be somewhere.

Haven't we all felt that way? As if there was still more night to be had?

In the end, Bitter in the Mouth is a solid book with a beautiful view on life from an outsider in a small Southern town. From Linda, we learn what it feels like to grow up being different from everyone else, what it takes to succeed in both education, friendship, and love. The book is hopeful for Linda, and I am hopeful for the book in turn- Bitter in the Mouth teaches us that we can all mature and endure.

No comments:

Post a Comment