I don’t know about anyone else, but I thought the African American Read-In was a huge success! I really enjoy talking with people about books, but that usually happens one-on-one. It was fun and enlightening to hear so many people’s thoughts. Thank you so much to Ari, Doret, and Edi for hosting!
Everybody reads reviews differently, so for those who like it short and sweet: I loved Bleeding Violet and heartily recommend it. For those who like to know a bit more about a book before buying/borrowing it, there’s a bit of plot at the bottom of the review under “Regarding Plot” (really, it’s what *I* would have put on the back cover instead of what was actually there). And for the rest of you, just read on!
Regarding Character: There’s more to the cover copy than that, of course, hinting at some of Hanna’s problems and how she tries to solve them, but that is, without a doubt, the most important sentence. She just wants to be loved. The other important thing to know, what will put the rest of my ruminations in context, is that the book is a fantasy novel. It takes place in a small town in Texas, Portero, where strange and scary things happen all the time. But to get back to Hanna…
She simply wants to be loved.
That’s important to remember, because it is, at times, the only identifiable thing about her. Hanna is beautiful, utterly gorgeous, and confident with the opposite sex. She’s also diagnosed as bipolar and has a hard time wanting to take her pills. She uses people and is, time and again, reckless with herself and others. There were a number of people at the Read-In who struggled with Hanna. Bleeding Violet is in first person, so disliking the main character makes the whole book a struggle.
I didn’t have that problem. I read the whole book one night and only put it down long enough to grab three hours of sleep before finishing it in the morning. I suppose I may identify with Hanna more than some because I am diagnosed as clinically depressed. I identified with Hanna’s frustration with non-crazy people and their lack of understanding, as well as her inner struggle with trying to figure out who she wants to be and how her mental illness fits in with her own identity.
On the other hand, Hanna is incredibly different from me. I doubt I would have made any of the same choices as she did. But isn’t that what fiction is for? To explore places I can’t go and meet people I likely never will? To try to understand and empathize those people by being inside their brains in a way that is much harder and rarer in the real world?
Hanna’s main motivation is love, as I have said. But specifically, she’s looking for the love of her mother, Rosalee, who she hasn’t seen since, well, she was born! We talked a fair amount about that at the Read-In: beyond Hanna’s craziness and Portero’s craziness lies a foundational story of a daughter seeking the love of her estranged mother. When you keep that in mind, I think Hanna’s actions become a lot more understandable.
Regarding Plot: I don’t want to make this humongously long and there are a million and a half more things I could write about (this was a big book, with any definition of big you want to put on it), but I will leave off with my own back cover copy. It’s going to be more boring than the one that came with the book, but I think it will also be more accurate. *glowers at the crappy copy*
Hanna simply wants to be loved. (What? That one line was good so I’m stealing it!) Her Swedish dad loved her and she loved him, madly. But then he died and, mostly, left her (she still hears his voice sometimes). In search of love, Hanna travels to Portero, Texas in search of her estranged mother, Rosalee. She expects to be the craziest thing in town, but then nobody reacts when she has a weird hallucination and everybody’s calling her a transy, whatever the hell that means. But there’s a cute boy named Wyatt and her Swan and Hanna knows that she can make Rosalee love her. Soon she’ll figure out what’s going on, uncovering the town’s history and secrets, uncovering Rosalee’s history and secrets, and she’ll turn everything topsy turvy.
Disclosure: Borrowed from the library!