Saturday, October 23, 2010

Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams

   Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams
Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2010

This free-verse novel opens suddenly, as the narrator, almost-thirteen-year-old Hope, describes walking in on her sister, fourteen-year-old Lizzie, holding a gun and preparing to kill herself. Lizzie is whisked away to the psychiatric ward of a hospital, leaving Hope and their mother behind.

Although barely a year separates the sisters, they've grown up looking out for each other, and Hope can't imagine what would drive Lizzie to attempt suicide. Through a series of flashbacks Hope revisits her childhood, and begins to examine events that may have caused Lizzie to become depressed. For instance, the girls' mother is a prositute who has no qualms about chasing her daughters away when she's entertaining. But what terrible thing could have happened to cause Lizzie to want to leave Hope behind forever?

This novel was absolutely powerful and I loved it. It's not always easy for me to read free-verse novels, but this one flowed very well. Hope's voice is very realistic as a scared twelve year old girl whose world is collapsing around her. I especially love when child narrators recount things exactly the way they remember them, without interjecting their opinions. Take, for example, Hope's retelling of a time Momma took Lizzie and Hope to the beach and spot a trio of snakes, only to realize that the snakes are, in fact, deadly water moccasins:

Momma didn't pick a thing up.
Not the umbrella,
not the towel she sat on.
Not even that sweet smelling
olive oil.

She just ran,
leaving me and Liz behind.
 (p. 318)

It's obvious we're not dealing with a potential Mother-of-the-Year here, but because the girls are so young, they don't recognize how badly they're being treated and just see things are they are.

Readers might pick up on Lizzie's secret long before Hope does, but I think that's done intentionally by the author. She wants us to know, and wants us to cringe with horror, so that we're ready to sympathize with Hope when she does find out.

A very moving book; I highly recommend it.

Enjoy your reading!

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