Monday, July 9, 2012

Wrong Genre: Roscoe's Leap

Roscoe's Leap
Well, I read today's book expecting completely the wrong kind of thing until the last twenty or so pages. I picked up Gillian Cross's Roscoe's Leap at a library discard sale sometime in the past five years, and based on the author, the blurb, and the cover, I figured it was a time-slip book, where somehow the guillotine thing shoves them around in time or lets them see stuff back in head-slicing days or something. Modern covers look like this, but my cover has an eighties looking guy cowering from some candles and the hint of a guillotine; it really looks the past has hold of him.
BarockSchloss, CC License
And of course, that's what this book is about, but it's the literal past of the characters, not the distant past of history that has them in its grasp. The family living in their ancestral ridiculous old historical house find that their family secrets get stirred up when an eager young researcher comes to investigate the founding member of their family. Stephen, the stoic twelve year old, learns why he has taught himself to hide his emotions so well, even from himself; Hannah, the mechanical fifteen year old, learns that the interiors of people can be almost as interesting as that of the automatons collected by her distant ancestor. And they all learn how devastating family secrets can be, although I could have done without the Highly Symbolic final scene at the crumbling bridge with long disunited parents clasping hands to lead their frightened child to safety.

Of course, I read the whole thing thinking that Cross was doing her usual good job of emotionally grounding the characters before introducing the whole time-travel thing, and then thinking that it was going to be hard to wrap up everything once the magic started, and then thinking that there sure was a lot of time spent on the family's emotional pit of despair regarding the dad (from all the characters, including the dad), and then suddenly realizing that that was actually the CORE OF THE BOOK, and having as sharp a shock as young Stephen when he started recovering memories. So it was a good read, but I was obviously confused for most of it.

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