Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Girl Who Reads: Among Others

Among OthersI read Jo Walton's Among Others back when it first came out, and then again when the paperback release arrived (I got both). I wanted to think on it for a little before I came to a reaction, and then of course it got lost under a pile of other books I had finished. As Jo Walton writes a column at tor.com solely based on books she re-reads, it seems appropriate that this post comes out the second instead of the first time that I read her autobiographical book.

It's even better the second time around, and I liked it a lot the first time.  It's about a girl turning into an adult who has spent a lot of time with books and in her imagination.  She's also faced great losses and experienced real magic. Now she is learning to live in a new and alien place where she clings to her reading as the only part of her previous life still available.  She's uneven and judgmental and clever and moral in a way that seems very true to life of passionate teenagers.

I remember thinking that the magic plot didn't integrate completely with the school and boyfriend plots, but on a reread I disagree with myself and found them to interweave well.  The danger from her mom and her dead sister echoed the problems with her aunts and her social awkwardness, and I liked how the men (dad and Wim) rallied to her when she returned from defeating the women (mom, and what the fairies wanted to make of her sister).  Of course, she didn't need them, but they were ready to offer. I also liked Mor's faults; her stubborn and often unpleasant contempt for the girls at school who don't like her; adolescents who can't win often furiously reject the game.

I still can't handle the sexual advances from her dad on her first trip with him; Mor's intellectual response makes bizarre sense but I don't really see the emotional aftermath reflected.

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