Saturday, January 9, 2010

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan

Wow. This is going to be a tough one to write about. I went into Tender Morsels expecting a lot. I didn't know much about the story, just that some of my favorite bloggers had loved it, though a few despised it; it dealt with rape and incest; and it had something to do with bears as is evident by the cover. And that's really all that I'm tempted to tell you as well, because I liked knowing so little about the novel. In fact, I think that is I will say about the plot. Instead, I'll focus more on my experience and the characters while reading this one. This book is not always an easy read, and I think that may be why some people have problems with it. In some places, it's harsh, it's ugly, it's repulsive. But so is it's subject matter. Rape and incest are not pretty things, nor are the resulting traumas of those events. And though Liga's trauma is covered up for awhile, and though she can escape into her own private heaven for years, she ultimately can't escape her past. Yes, that's upsetting. But it's reality. What I also loved is that Lanagan addresses the conflict of things like rape and incest. How something beautiful can come from something so ugly. For Liga, that beautiful thing is her two amazing daughters, Branza and Urdda, two characters who I love so much!! But for others, trauma of any kind can ultimately make a person stronger...if not stronger, they can find a part of themselves that they never knew can form connections that ultimately wouldn't have been there. I'm not for a second advocating abuse or harm of any kind, but I liked that Lanagan found something positive in Liga's gut wrenching story. The fairy tale aspect of Margo Lanagan's writing is to put it very lightly, amazing. She's set up a world that I'm simply in awe of, that I never wanted to leave. The language of the novel, the scenery, the towns, the magic, the characters, the time, the essence of it all was all so beautiful and real and it just appealed to all of my senses. She paints stories within stories within stories, but the tale of Tender Morsels itself never manages to get overly complicated. I never complained when a new character was added to the plot as I do with so many other novels. I loved all of these characters. Well I shouldn't say that...there were a few that I absolutely hated. But my, were most of these characters incredible! There are witches that are wise and witches that are less wise but have hearts of gold, there are mothers and daughters to make you smile and cry, there are littlee men who can irritate but make you laugh, there are humans to despise, there are bears to love and bears to hate, there are men to love and men to hate, there are babs to care for, young boys to feel pain for, wolves to long for, and so much more. I don't even know what else to say about this novel right now except for, read it. It's going on my list of favorite books and I think it's a really important book for people to read. It's about the power of overcoming difficulties. Not forgetting them, not escaping them (though that may be necessary along the journey), but the gradual, long journey of moving through a traumatic event. What a beautiful book this was.

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