Friday, February 8, 2013
So for my first Random Notes, I want to tell you about a beautiful new book I just finished reading. It's a book that will transport you and haunt you and make you want to be a better writer. At least it did me. The book I'm talking about is Katherine Catmull's devastatingly beautiful debut middle grade novel, Summer and Bird.
Summer and Bird is a story about two sisters in search of their parents. When sister, Bird, lets an owl in the window, their parents mysteriously disappear in the middle of the night. The only clue as to where they have gone and why is a cryptic picture message their mother (who is a mystery herself) leaves behind. The message leads the two girls from the safety of their forest home to a ruined, frozen world known as Down. As the sisters search for their parents, they encounter talking ravens, an evil Puppeteer, a kindly man named Ben, lots of other birds, and the tallest tree in the world. Their search for their parents turns into a search for their truest selves, as well. This is a book that, like any good fairy tale, sings on many different levels. One one level, it's an adventure/coming of age story; on another it's an exploration of sibling relationship and parental relationships; and on yet another level, it's an exploration of loss--loss of faith, loss of expectation, loss of identity, loss of The Mother we all seek. As Catmull writes in the book, We lose our mothers and look for them everywhere. Primarily in ourselves, I think.
Will Summer and Bird appeal to middle grade readers? I'm not sure. It will, though, appeal to readers of all ages who love the work of Phillip Pullman and Sonja Hartnett and Marcus Zusak, and some of Kate DiCamillo's more literary stuff.
I'm so awed by Katherine Catmull's writing, I can't wait to see what she does next!