Tuesday, May 16, 2006

#40 - The Man Of My Dreams

Curtis Sittenfeld, unlike any author I've ever read with any ferocity before, has an uncanny ability to write characters that, despite the fact that you might not like them, you almost always empathize with them. That was the case with Prep (one of my favourites from last year) and it's certainly true of her latest, The Man of My Dreams.

Hannah Gavener is fourteen years old when the novel opens, completely awkward, obsessed with celebrity, and unbearably adolescent. By the time the novel ends, Hannah's childhood is far behind her, but the pain of growing up, her parents' divorce and the unrequited love for Henry, her cousin's boyfriend, seem to define her for all eternity. Hannah doesn't want it this way; it's just what happens, despite Sittenfeld trying to tell us differently.

I found the novel extremely satisfying—and was quite interested in how Sittenfeld structured certain parts of it, juxtaposing past and present in intriguing ways, foretelling the story in certain parts, backtelling in others. It all molds together very well, and I'm even more impressed that she's managed to write two solid books within such a short time of one another.

And just like I did with Prep, I read this book in one sitting—like a girl with ice cream in the house whose supposed to be on a diet, I crammed it in, sweet burning my brain, because I love her use of language, her painfully real situations (just wait until you get to the camping scene and you'll know exactly what you mean), and remembered how awful it was being a teenager, always being left behind, always being the "friend", never being the one the boys danced with, argh, it's so real, but that's a good thing. I think.

For more reading, EW has a good, short interview with the author.

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