The Book Blag

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Review: Mercury November 6, 2010

Filed under: Book Reviews — Carrie @ 10:13 pm
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Mercury follows the stories of two young girls; Tara, a present-day teenager who is struggling with the recent loss of her home in a fire, and her ancestor Josey, living in the house in the 1800s. Events unfold in Josey’s life that lead to treasure being hidden on the land, which Tara eventually discovers. Mercury is a combination of graphic story-telling, history, and magical realism.

This is a good introduction to graphic novels for those who are unfamiliar; it’s light reading and well-illustrated. I really had to plug away to get to the meat of the story… it’s worth reading to the end, but at times it feels like the story isn’t going anywhere. However, the illustration is captivating and the glimpse into 1800s Nova Scotia is enough to keep the reader engaged. I enjoyed the nuggets of Canadian slang footnoted in the various panels.

Elements of romance permeate both the historical and present-day plotlines, as well as typical teenage angst and self-discovery. Girls aged 12 and up will enjoy this story – there isn’t much out there for young girls in the realm of graphic novels; I’d recommend this for any YA or school library collection.

My rating: 3.5 stars


Review: Sarah’s Key October 10, 2010

Sarah's KeyJulia Jarmond, an American journalist living in France, is told to write an article on the 60th anniversary of Vel’ d’Hiv, a roundup of Jews by the French police in 1942. As Julia discovers more about the Vel’ d’Hiv, she becomes fascinated with the story of a particular ten year-old girl and her family who were arrested. Julia discovers that Sarah, this girl, locked her little brother in a hidden cupboard during the arrest, thinking they would be back shortly. Julia uses this intricate research as an escape from her own life, her own little girl, and a husband who is becoming increasingly distant. The life of Sarah even begins to parallel Julia’s life in certain ways.
Tatiana de Rosnay wrote a masterpiece in Sarah’s Key. For the first half of the book, the story jumps from Julia’s life with first person narration to Sarah’s life with third person narration. I appreciated that different styles of narration were used because it is more difficult to follow otherwise. Eventually, we stop following Sarah and only find out things about her life as Julia discovers them.
To be completely honest, I was not enamored with Julia as a protagonist. Sometimes I just wanted to shake her and yell that she was doing it all wrong! On the other hand, Sarah’s story was absolutely captivating. I wanted more, more, more! Eventually, I had to just tolerate Julia in order to find out what happens to Sarah. I do not think we are supposed to love Julia as a character–she is meant to be stubborn and self-absorbed (at times). In an author’s interview in the back of my copy (Reading Group Gold), Tatiana de Rosnay states she “created a character who could really exist and that women can identify with!”
I was a child who was always fascinated with the Holocaust. I mainly could not believe people would do something like that! Of course, politics and war are lost on a child, but I could certainly understand the horror and tragedy. There are many children’s books written about the Holocaust, particularly about Jews in hiding, and Sarah’s Key took me back to those. Even if it takes a little while to get into, this book is a must read for people interested in the Holocaust or historical fiction in general.
My rating:
Where did I get this book? Paperback purchase from Amazon

2007. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin. 293 pages.