Since moving to Deal, NJ for the summer at the end of June, I’ve been so thankful for by my local library – a cozy, bright, inviting place that’s a joy to visit. I’m not much of a library patron – snobby as this sounds, I don’t like the feel of used books or that musty library smell. I like my books crisp and fresh and this library delivers. It’s orderly and clean, the books are new as can be and how amazing to catch up on books I’ve always wanted to read (or recently heard about) for free?
Nearly every Friday, I’ve taken my 18-month-old there for story time and of course there is much lingering at the shelves when it’s over. For the first time in a long time (bookstores don’t do this for me anymore) I’ve felt like a serendipitous browser. And the selection is amazing! Books that came out a week ago are in stock here. No waits, no holds – it’s mine as fast as I can snatch it up.
Among the first batch of books I checked out was Maggie Shipstead’s Astonish Me and it is most certainly aptly named!
While there was so much I admired about this novel – the carefully measured writing, the interior narrative voice and the immersive way Shipstead incorporated ballet culture and terminology, the last quarter of it was downright creepy – wholly unexpected and I might even say unearned. Was this where Shipstead was going all along? If so, she should have done more through the first half of the book to foreshadow or make the relationship credible. Did she happen upon this idea suddenly and decide to go through with it for shock value’s sake? (Authors do this and I hate it – it’s so manipulative!) What was going through her head? Did she see the end at the very beginning? And if so, how did she keep up the book-length facade? I’m intentionally being unclear here because I don’t want to give anything away, but those of you who’ve read it, what’s your verdict? Is this book well-choreographed, masterfully planned? Or does it completely crumple under the way of an unviable ending? Share. Opinions. Please!