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Wild Awake
Hilary T. Smith
Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera
Bryan Peterson
Chasing Brooklyn - Lisa Schroeder The “well-intentioned ghost” storyline has never really worked for me. In fact, they tend to make my face resemble this :-| (or the physical equivalent thereof as I am not, after all, an emoticon) , which I call the “No face”. As in, “No, leave that business to Patrick Swayze and the 1990s where it belongs.”However, when the lovely Jo throws down a book recommendation, I have no power to resist. She is that good. I had not too long ago been lamenting the fact that I had yet to discover a novel-in-verse that I really liked. I concluded that I am an uncultured philistine who knows nothing about poetry they just weren’t for me. Yet, armed with a glowing endorsement and a copy of Chasing Brooklyn on my kindle, I decided to test my theory one last time. So here it is, my official retraction: I was wrong, and the novel-in-verse enthusiasts (Lisa Schroeder fans in particular) were right. This really is a lovely book, and once I started reading it, I didn’t want to stop. Though it starts in something of a heavy place, amid the characters’ respective grieving processes, the story is genuinely uplifting. And I don’t mean that in an overly saccharine, pushily upbeat sense. While there is more than a touch of the whimsical about the plot, it’s also grounded in real emotion and some very tender and insightful scenes about living in the face of loss. This is a dual point of view book voiced by Brooklyn – whose boyfriend Lucca died a year previously – and Lucca’s brother Nico. In this case, the approach works really well. Rather than too much similarity in voice causing the perspectives to blur into each other, they were distinct and clear, from the tone through to the style. Brooklyn’s passages were more descriptive and introspective, slower, while Nico’s were initially sharper, harder – almost staccato. I admit I had gone into this book with reservations about how the characterisation would fare in verse form, but these proved unwarranted. Despite the occasional sparseness of the writing, Brooklyn and Nico felt fully fleshed out. Through his feelings of anger and sadness, Schroeder allows flashes of Nico’s humour to come through, even in some of the more intense scenes. It saves this story from becoming what might have otherwise been just another overwrought mourning book. While both characters are presented complete with their various vulnerabilities and flaws, they’re also given the chance to exist outside of the realm of their shared loss. By this I mean that there is a sense of who these people were before the tragedy, and who they might yet become. The slow development of Nico and Brooklyn’s relationship was well-handled, it was at once both sweet and realistic. I felt the validity of their reservations and the respect for the grieving process, yet was also a little bit twitterpated at seeing their mutual feelings emerge and develop. (Or maybe that was about Nico? Don’t look at me like that. If you’ve read this you know I’m not the only one.) In fact, that’s probably an apt way to sum up how I felt about this book. While I freely admit to initially being the Thumper ”it’s not going to happen to me” verse-novel naysayer, I’ve since had to change my tune. Well played, Lisa Schroeder. And Jo.