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August 21st, 2019

Out by the oak leaf with never a bough

The thing about childhood nostalgia is realizing that sometimes the things you have fond memories of are actually crap. I mostly find this to be true with films and cartoons, but the books I remember loving actually hold up pretty well. I wonder why that is?

What I just finished

The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope - Upon re-reading, it's pretty obvious why I loved this as a kid. Our hero, Kate Sutton, fails at performing conventional femininity. She's smart, stubborn, and 100% done with everyone's nonsense.. In short, she's precisely the sort of woman a young me would aspire to be, even before she saves the day and wins the guy. Christopher Heron is a bit too much of a Byronic asshole for my tastes, but the two of them have some great banter where she calls him on his shit and he's just like why are you like this and why is it so hot? It's a book that definitely holds up and was well worth the 25 cents I spent buying it.

I was struck by the difference in language and writing style between this book, first published in the 1970s, and more modern YA novels. The descriptions feel so much more dense and evocative. I think the last YA book that felt like that was by Rosemary Suttcliff, and she's not exactly current. When did stripping out vibrant descriptions and dumbing down the language in YA literature become a thing? Who started that trend and can we reverse it somehow? 

What I'm reading next

::Shrug:: I have a pretty serious backlog of books I've picked up at library book sales over the years. I think Love in the Time of Butterflies was on the shelf next to this on, so that maybe?



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