Sunday, March 31, 2013
I'm glad I listened to Madapple (Goodreads | Amazon). However I'm not sure if I can say I actually liked it. It's a disturbing read about a girl named Aslaug who's sequestered away from the world by an overprotective mother. Because of her isolation, Aslaug both loves and hates her mother, which skews her understanding of family and love for the whole book. When her mother unexpectedly dies, Aslaug has to face a world she does not understand and is not prepared for.
This book asks a lot of questions without ever answering them. But the way it asks them, the struggles Aslaug has, are interesting to read. Aslaug's story and her mother's story are very interwoven. The more she learns about herself the more she understands her mother and why she abandoned the world for isolation on their small farm.
One of the most disturbing elements was mutual crush between two cousins (who may or may not be half-siblings as well). Because Aslaug has been isolated and never known a boy her own age, it's understandable to an extent. But being understandable does not make it any less gross.
The biggest problem with this book is the pacing. I appreciate discussions of theology (probably more than most people do) but there's a point where rehashing those conversation drags down the book. There a whole section where this book is almost 90% theological discussion while nothing else happens. As a writer it's good to know all that information and to do all that research. However, the readers don't need all that information, only the sliver that is most relevant.
What this book did was very interesting. The story jumps between a murder trial and Aslaug's story. You never quite understand the timeline, what is happening or what has happened until the very end. Even though my feelings about this book are very mixed and muddled, I think it's worth reading to see what you think about it. The story is different enough to be compelling despite it's flaws.
Actually the narration really worked for me. I think this is the type of book I would've been tempted to abandon. But there it was every time I climbed into my car there it was, well-narrated and it was too much effort to go to library to search for a new audiobooks. The narration captured Aslaug's otherworldly feel, her isolation and separation from the world quite well. At times I did get confused because the way the book is structured and started passages over to figure out where I was. I think this would've been a better audiobook for a longer car trip where I was forced to focus on the story for more than 15 minute intervals. But like I said, for me this worked and I think it was a good way to get through a difficult book.