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The Freak Observer Hardcover – August 1, 2010
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Mrs. Bishop, the guidance counselor at school, wasn't much help and everyone else thought of her as "that dead girl's friend" and that simply wasn't cool. Loa had a "glitch in [her] brain" and in her dreams she saw Esther's heart in the laundry basket. She didn't want to sleep because she'd see that heart. Cleaning all night solved that, but she couldn't stay awake forever. They used to call it "shellshock," but now it's called PTSD. They gave Loa six weeks of "grief counseling" because of her screaming at night and nightmares that brought everything back. At the end of her counseling she was supposed to be all cured up, but she knew that Esther couldn't "be alive and dead at the same time like Schrödinger's imaginary cat." Esther was dead and that was that.
It used to be that everyone had their own little orbit around her younger sister, Asta. Now "there were pages missing from Asta's book" and everyone had to tend to her because she never walked, talked, and had to wear diapers.Read more ›
The book itself really is beautiful. The art on the jacket and on the cover, the style; it's just really cool looking. Not a book that you buy to look good on your shelf, but to look good in your hand.
If someone had given me a synopsis of the book I wouldn't have read it. It is just about a short period of time in the lead's life beginning the day after she sees her friend being hit by a car. She is at the same time dealing with abuse and abandonment and social angst and school...this sounds horrible to me, but somehow I loved the book.
It was engaging and interactive. Woolston is clever and smart and pulls it all off natrually, this is very rare for mainstream fiction. Your comprehension of each page depends on your having read the next one. Really good.
Loa is one of the saddest characters I've read recently. Ever since her younger sister died of Rett Syndrome, a degenerative disease that left her infantile, Loa's family has fallen apart. Her often intoxicated parents treat her like she's the cause of their problems. Then she witnesses one of her friends run over by a car. Now Loa is friendless and has to work to help support her family as she watches her dreams of college fade with her grades. And, a new friend might be the most harmful of all.
THE FREAK OBSERVER, while filled with gorgeous prose and metaphors for life and science, is a novel without a plot. In many character driven stories, the protagonist develops insight while undergoing growth and maturity. Loa's arc feels almost nonexistent. Her circumstances improve negligibly.
Blythe Woolston can certainly write beautifully. I would have enjoyed the story much more if positive secondary characters in her life played a bigger part, even though her family was realistic in its emotional abuse and dysfunction.
THEMES: family dysfunction, siblings, death, grief, PTSD
THE FREAK OBSERVER might not appeal to all readers, but those with difficult home lives will relate to Loa.
The author's language is absolutely beautiful. As I was reading The Freak Observer, the word raw came to mind. Loa's emotions and thoughts are in the forefront. I could reach out and touch them. If you read the novel you'll come up with several interpretations of the cover, but in my view the main character left her heart bare for the reader to see. I've never read an edgy, literary debut quite like this. I hope to see more novels forthcoming from Blythe Woolston.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Teen life is extra complicated for our heroine, who lost a sister and whose father lost his job. The characters and their situation are finely drawn, with no easy answers.Published on January 25, 2014 by something wild
With so many elements -- science, the death of the fey baby sister Asta, the Wrong [Maybe] Boyfriend, Cory, and the Right [Maybe] Boyfriend, Arno, the death of the [Maybe} Best... Read morePublished on March 29, 2013 by Frances Kuffel
This is an awesome book about a female protagonist who has a personality and a mixed-up life. I will be recommending this to my sharp brained female students when they are looking... Read morePublished on March 1, 2013 by Patricia Woods
Lucky me to hear Blythe Woolsten's acceptance speech for the ALA award for Debut Novel. Her prose there is as exacting and incisive as the book. Read morePublished on January 13, 2011 by Fierce Red Pen
It's not often that you find a YA book with a compelling female protagonist, and this is one. But it's not a "girls' book"; boys should find it interesting too. Read morePublished on December 10, 2010 by S. McG.
Loa, who has just lost a younger sister and a friend, navigates the worlds of high school and her family... all this interspersed with snippets of theoretical physics. Read morePublished on November 21, 2010 by Allison J
Unable to put this novel down, I finished it in one long bite. It is phenomenal. Smart, sad, honest, gritty, and beautiful. Read morePublished on September 5, 2010 by Kindle Customer