Saturday, April 25, 2009
I had high hopes for this one. The premise is so different:
A debut novel about a young girl at the center of the secret world of professional mourners, where women are trained extensively and paid handsomely to attend the funerals of strangers.
Mem is a wailer, a professional mourner hired to cry at funerals. One of the few remaining American girls in this secret, illegal profession, Mem hails from a long line of mourners, including her mother, a legendary master wailer hired for the most important funerals in her hometown of Philadelphia.
Though Mem is to eventually become a renowned wailer herself, she at first struggles with her calling. She is a girl who cannot make herself cry, and though her mother loves her fiercely, she must use ancient, emotionally abusive, cultlike rituals to train Mem to weep. When Mem emerges as the greatest wailer that the profession has ever seen, her infamy brings with it unwanted attention, especially from the authorities.
Interweaving poetic prose and artifacts spanning six thousand years and seven continents, Open Me is an utterly original novel about mothers and daughters, dark underworlds, and the play between fact and fiction. (from bn.com)
I still think this is an interesting concept for a book. And Mem's story was fascinating. But I wanted more. More of her training, and her dreams, and more about the weirdness of life with wailers. I thought the book bogged down in the spots where the author switched to poetry and legend. The background felt disjointed and too ambitious. I would have liked more of a focus on the characters, and less on the creation of a mystical profession. More show, less tell.
But that's just me. Lately I'm finding myself drawn more to the characters in a story. I remember when I could never really pinpoint whether I preferred characters or plot...however, right now, I can definitely say...I'm all about the characters.