David Case never questions his ordinary suburban life -- until one fateful day, a brush with death brings him face to face with his own mortality. Suddenly, everywhere he looks he sees catastrophe, disaster, the ruin of the human race, the demise of the planet...not to mention (to pinpoint the exact source of his anxiety) possible pain and suffering for himself.Dear Ms. Rosoff,
So he changes his name, reinvents his appearance, and falls in love with the seductive Agnes Bee -- in the hope that he'll become unrecognizable to Fate and saved from his own doom. With his imaginary greyhound in tow, Justin Case struggles to maintain his new image and above all, to survive in a world where twists of fate wait for him around every corner.
I don't know how you do it. If people were to judge you by that book description they would think you were crazy, but I think you are brilliant! It cannot be easy to write a young adult novel disguised as a treatise on the state of the world for young adults. The description looks like a bunch of nonsense, but you brought it all together in such a way that it works. We do live in a scary world, but we choose to carry on with things as if we aren't going to be hit by a bus tomorrow. David (Justin) acts like you can trick fate into over-looking you if you reinvent yourself as an entirely different person. He is afraid of the world, so he decides to do something about it. He really does become an entirely different person, and in many ways, by becoming that different person he lives more than he did when he was just plain David Case.
I love how you can take things that have been done over and over again and make them fresh. I love how you can take weird and random ideas and make them work in the novel. I mean, an imaginary dog does not sound like Justin is right in the head, but amazingly it works! The imaginary dog is a character in the book and you cannot think of Justin without him. We all need to believe a bit in the unbelievable, and for Justin, it is a dog that no one else can see. It amazes me how people around him accept the dog even though they themselves are not able to see it. It all centres around Agnes Bee, though. She is key in Justin Case (don't you love that?) becoming who he becomes. Justin becomes too much for her, but their interactions make for some great reading.
Considering this book is on the short side, it is amazing that you manage to accomplish so much, but you have readers thinking about their own immortality. That isn't always a bad thing. Teenagers (and many adults) tend to live like they have plenty of time left, but you just never know what is going to happen next and need to start living in the moment. Another excellent book from you!
Fast Forward to 2009....
The Bride's Farewell by Meg Rosoff
On the morning of her wedding, Pell Ridley creeps out of bed in the dark, kisses her sisters goodbye and flees — determined to escape a future that offers nothing but hard work and sorrow. She takes the only thing that truly belongs to her: Jack, a white horse.When I heard that you had a new book coming out, I had to read it! The fact that I haven't read all of your older books yet does not seem to matter for me. Plus, it has a really interesting cover and I thought it would look nice on my shelf. The pretty hardcover arrived in the mail and I read it pretty much right away. I was still on a high from your other intriguing novel, so I figured it could only get better, right? I was wrong, so very wrong! All I can think of saying is what were you thinking!
The road ahead is rich with longing, silence and secrets, and each encounter leads her closer to the untold story of her past. Then Pell meets a hunter, infuriating, mysterious and cold. Will he help her to find what she seeks?
With all the hallmarks of Meg Rosoff’s extraordinary writing, The Bride’s Farewell also breaks new ground for this author, in a nineteenth-century, Hardyesque setting. This is a moving story of love and lost things, with a core of deep, beautiful romance.
Let's be frank here. You are a wonderful writer. You know how to use words to the best of your ability. You take totally unrelated things and mix them together to make a fresh story. You horrify, but you always seem to have a point, so it all works out in the end. I have expectations, I admit that, but what did you do? I understand that authors like to break-out and do something different once in a while, but I honestly cannot even begin to understand how the person that wrote this book wrote the other books that I have loved. I read it to completion trying to figure it all out, but in the end I was just disappointed. I cannot even begin to understand what this book is about. I couldn't even write a summary because a bunch of random things happened and then it was over! I was left staring at the last page in horror because you let me down...
If this was the first book I had read by you, maybe I would let it slide. It is my third book by you, though, and I know what you are capable of. You are capable of a much better book than this one! I want to support you because you write such great books generally, but I am hesitant to even recommend this. A large part of me would like to pretend that this book doesn't even exist and concentrate on your other stuff. I haven't lost faith, though. I will still own your next book fresh off the presses, but understand that it will not with as much excitement as I had going into this book. You let me down and I am afraid that will happen again now.
I hate when I have to say negative things about an author I generally love, but I don't want people to think this is the best that you can do, because it isn't!
(My thanks to Random House for sending me a copy of The Bride's Farewell!)