Book Reviews: An Orphan and a Teenage Girl

Oliver Twist

Two or three times a year, I’ll dive into a literary classic. Often it’s Jane Austen or Mark Twain but this month was Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist“. Big fan of old Charles, I am. But I’d never read “Oliver Twist” and decided it was high time I did.

A vast amount of swooning, fainting and crying happens in “Oliver Twist“–mostly by the main character. In fact, I can’t think of a bigger pussy in the history of literature. He spends most of the book recovering from illnesses brought on by his overwrought emotional state.

The characters in the book are either SO good or SO bad. Not a lot of gray in Dickens’ characters. It’s melodrama to the umpteenth degree.

SPOILER ALERT: There are predictable endings for the novel’s characters: On the one hand, everyone finds out they are secretly related and they live in happy bliss surrounded by butterflies and unicorns. Except for the thieves. Who all die. Hooray!

Dickens also has a very low opinion of Christians. He must have spent some time around some. But Dickens’ dialogue is always first-rate. A very sarcastic, satirical writer. Which is probably why I love him. But “Oliver Twist” was not my favorite.

2 1/2 stars out of 5

Inzanesville

You could not PAY me to relive junior high. I can’t think of a more traumatic, emotionally damaging period of time in a young girl’s life. Jo Ann Beard’s novel “Inzanesville” captures that horrifying experience very well with the un-named main character agonizing over EVERY decision she makes, not wanting to look stupid.

The intricacies and craziness of relationships at 14-years-old is depicted very well as the young girl battles with her sister and mother, worries about her father, has misunderstandings with her best friend and is basically trying to find her way in this crazy thing we call life.

Good read. Funny, honest and a great example of how tenuous friendships can be.

3 1/2 stars out of 5.

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