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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.


112/100: Glory O'Brien's History of the Future

Glory O'Brien's History of the Future - A.S. King

I gave this book five stars even though it was not a perfect book. It strained credibility and I never quite decided how I felt about the moral message. Still, I found myself more absorbed in it than perhaps anything else I read in 2015; I discovered why [author:A.S. King|1651879] is such a big deal, and I wanted to go out and read everything she's ever written.

Glory O'Brien's voice is what carried this book for me. I related to her feeling as an outsider, as an observer. Her voice didn't feel forced or like it was trying too hard to sound like a "real teenager." She is flawed -- despite her snarky thoughts about her best friend, she is unable to be honest with her, or to stop hanging out even though she keeps telling herself she will. She is also haunted by her mother's suicide when she was four years old, and her struggle to understand this permeates the book.

Then there is the magical realism, the visions that Glory begins seeing of a future in which women's rights are essentially eradicated with laws like the "Families First Act," which forbids women to work outside the home, and the "Fathers Count Act," which keeps single mothers from receiving government benefits like welfare and food stamps. Although the spectre of such a future did not ring true to me, it still worked as a cautionary tale. While it doesn't seem a future that is likely to happen, it still presents a paradigm against which we can measure our own progress, or lack thereof.

But what compelled me most about the story was everything that happened outside of the visions -- Glory's struggle to understand her mother's life and her father's past, her ambivalence toward her best friend, her determination about what belongs to her and what she needs to let go. And most of all, I loved that this book was unabashedly feminist -- that Glory thought about things like what the real message behind beauty products were, and that she recognized the unhealthy sexual standards set up by a culture permeated by pornography. I wanted to personally thank A.S. King for creating Glory O'Brien to look head-on at the things most young adult novels pretend don't even exist -- it not directly being part of the consumerist system -- because it's just too pervasive.

But it wasn't too much for A.S. King, which is why I must read more of her in 2015.