Sweet Lamb of Heaven, Girls and Sex, Wink Poppy Midnight

Lydia Millet’s Sweet Lamb of Heaven sounded like it had everything I could want from a book. Anna’s in a bad marriage and has a baby her husband doesn’t want. Now, several years later, her husband is running for public office and Anna is on the run, desperate to keep him from finding her and Lena and using them as pawns. What’s more, she constantly hears a voice running a largely incoherent and incomprehensible monologue in a mix of English and other (possibly unknown) languages. She lands at a motel in Maine that seems randomly chosen–but that may have called to them. So many good ideas, and such beautiful writing! But I was left disappointed by the end, which avoided convention but didn’t replace it with narrative satisfaction.

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke was almost unbearably emo. Poppy is beyond popular, Midnight the boy who thinks he loves her, and Wink an outcast girl who pulls at Midnight’s heart and rips him away from Poppy, setting into course a chain of action with devastating results. Told from all three characters points-of-view in alternating chapters, the book plays with the notion of reliability. I got tired of all their whining and ultimately didn’t care about the outcome for any of them.

Girls and Sex (with its bright pink cover) is meant to terrify, just like every single other book Peggy Orenstein has written. I’m not knocking on her ability to pen incisive cultural commentary that raises important questions about women’s issues, and I care deeply about those same issues, but sometimes I feel like Orenstein is writing for the sake of writing. I don’t know how much I actually trust her interpretation of things, because her instinct for the dramatic and the controversial makes me wonder if things are truly as bad as they seem in her books.

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