Sunday, May 25, 2014

Book Review - Marionette by T. B. Markinson

Synopsis:

At the age of seventeen, Paige Alexander had it all planned. She wrote a letter, sat in the bath, and slit her wrists. Her plan failed.

Her best friend, Alex, is dead.

Paige can’t get over her twin sister blaming her for a tragic event in their past.

Colorado is in the midst of voting on lesbian and gay rights and Paige is terrified to come out of the closet, fearful for her life.

Many people in Paige’s life are keeping secrets from her. Will she piece everything together before it’s too late?

In this gripping first-person narrative, a young college student grapples with more than first loves or coming of age.  In a world filled with homophobia, suicidal feelings, and a dysfunctional family, Paige cuts her wrists in an attempt to free herself from the crazy life that’s all she’s ever known.

Could there be new lessons in store for Paige?  With the help of her girlfriend, friends, and a compassionate therapist, can Paige find the safe space she needs to heal, grow, and cut her strings?

What I thought:

To be honest, I started to read this book then stopped - not once but three times.  I can promise you this had nothing to do with the author's writing.  It had everything to do with me as I tend to read "happier" stories.  Marionette is not the typical young adult novel. Instead, it broaches some heavy issues:  suicide, family dysfunction and homosexuality.

Marionette is a first person narrative but I wasn't always convinced that main character, Paige Alexander, was giving an accurate depiction of her family.  It sometimes felt a little too convenient.  (Like the old saying goes, I kept thinking that there are three sides to every story - your side, my side, and the truth which falls somewhere in the middle.)  I would have loved to have met her family, to have witnessed the dysfunction rather than having to rely on a "retelling" of the events.  Having said that, there was a lot to like about this novel.  The author juggled a lengthy cast of characters and did a good job giving a distinct voice to each.  While I didn't find Paige to be the most likable character, she was captivating.  I especially liked the scenes between her and her therapist.  The interaction between the those two characters felt authentic and the author's approach to handling such a sensitive issue was spot on.  She didn't minimize the suicide attempt nor try to justify it. She presented it as it was - something confusing and traumatic.  

Being a teenager isn't easy; it can be quite painful.   Add homosexuality to the mix and you've got a recipe for some serious angst.   Paige and her friends deal with homophobia. (Introduce the homophobes - Aaron, with his military haircut and attitude and Audrey the good Catholic girl.) I recognize that homosexuals deal with homophobia on a daily basis - and some of the people serving up the hate consider themselves religious, etc.  I wish the author would have  chosen to reach beyond the stereotypes.  A compassionate Catholic girl who supports equal rights or a military minded gay guy would have been awesome.  That being said, I felt as though Markinson shared a story that anyone could read and relate to.

There was romance in this story but don't expect anything raunchy because its not in this book.  The author took great care to show the emotional connection between Paige and her girlfriend - any physical descriptions are kept to a minimum. 

Overall, I thought Markinson delivered a compelling story.