Thursday, July 07, 2011
Of course we are supposed to think that Sarah is phony and shallow, because we need a contrast with Little Bee. But I could barely read Sarah’s chapters. Instead of the hyperrealism that we see in Little Bee’s chapters, Sarah’s are sketchy and unbelievable. Her husband dies and there is a funeral, but where are his parents? Her parents? Their siblings? It was the most unrealistic funeral chapter I’ve ever read. Other chapters have similar gaps and weaknesses, and read as if they were dashed off as drafts of chapters, instead of final versions. Cleave could have made Sarah phony and shallow and still provided some polish and verisimilitude.
Unfortunately you can’t just read Little Bee’s chapters and get the whole picture. Because Little Bee’s story is so compelling I still recommend this book, but be prepared to skim Sarah’s chapters.
(Book 19, 2011)