Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Changeover by Margaret Mahy

Bopping around different blogs from "Waiting on Wednesday," I stumbled upon a delightful post on Anna Reads where Cassandra Clare wrote about her top five literary crushes. I love that she has a bit of a running throughout the list: blonde, sarcastic, and emotionally fragile. The Changeover fascinated me as I had never heard of it before, and it took place in New Zealand.

Laura Chant is a fourth year former (meaning she's fourteen) and gets through life with her scatterbrained mother Kate and adorable baby brother Jacko. While times are always financially lean and Laura is dealing with the emotional backlash of her father leaving the family, she is also relatively happy. The three of them have a system that makes Laura feel secure, and allows her to brush off her 'inklings,' i.e. premonitions, as something to hunker down for but otherwise survive. Everything seems to be following its usual course until Kate meets a nice Canadian, and things start progressing quickly. Added onto that a scummy antiques dealer Carmody Braque stamps her little brother and starts sucking the life force out of him.

As life seems to be falling apart Laura turns to Sorry Carlisle, a boy she doesn't really speak to yet has a hypersensitivity to and happens to be a witch. Laura hopes that he will be able to save Jacko, but it seems that to save her little brother she must be willing to become a witch and all the mysteries that entails.

I really really really liked this book. It took me a little while to get into. I didn't know it was set in New Zealand at first, and therefore the different slang and terms took a little getting used to. I think I loved the reality of how certain themes were dealt with, such as sex and divorce, perfunctory and yet also with care. The plot was sometimes a little spotty, and I'm not 100% sure why Laura and Sorry have decided that they are definitely getting married in the future, but truth be told I don't care. The emotions rang true for me and I really loved the characters. As in I hope someday to have a son and he will turn out just like Jacko.

The emotions were all dealt with so well: the nuances of anxiety about Jacko's impending death, Laura's unmade feeling at the beginning and her slow completion at the end, Sorry's obvious love for Laura and his hiding it behind sarcasm and wit. Fantastic! Does it make up for the fact that some plot things felt a bit rushed and I wasn't all that aware of Carmody Braque the villain? Yep. The one major complaint I have is the cover. Ew. They did redo it to something more palatable, but I had to show you this one because I thought it was kind of hilarious. Now go forth and read.

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