Saturday, March 3, 2018

"Bacon Pie" and "Go"-Two Coming of Age Novels You Need on Your Bookshelf Right Now.

I can't remember a time when I felt like a carefree teenager. And, being in my early-thirties now, I basically avoid any coming-of-age stories/films...songs, all of it (unless I'm taking my kids to read/see/hear it because in my mind they need it, and I don't). 

So, it's kind of a surprise I found two that I really enjoyed. 

 But I can tell you that this is a genre that I don't go for, so when I recommend these reads, it's a whole-hearted thing. They managed to take me back 15 years or so and remember some of what that was like, especially "Go", with its theme of growing up in turmoil from the home but mostly from society. Read these. I'm not kidding, go get them and read these. Even if you don't care for coming-of-age tales, these have something to tell you. 

"Bacon Pie" by Candace Robinson (Literary Dust) and Gerardo Delgadillo is the more light-hearted of the two. It's a fun read, with some funny moments and incredibly fleshed-out characters. The viewpoint switches from Kiev to Lia, from theater star to video-game girl, and both are likable and quirky. The dialogue and story are easy reading in that they flow realistically and it's great to follow along with the two mains as they realize what's important to them. It's fun, though. Like full of butter-carving contests and pet armadillos and goth friends who bake professionally well fun. 

If you are like me, this book will bring back some of the few sweet memories to be had in adolescence. 

"Why do I speak before thinking sometimes? Can I haul that sentence back in with a lasso?" is probably my favorite (inner-thought) quote I've read in a long time. 

Grab this one for laughs and sweetness of young love
and for the incredibly realistic way the characters spoke and interacted with each other. 

Are you part of a nation because you were born there? Because you served in their military? Because you have papers saying you are? And does any of it matter if we all came from the same place? 

Kazuki Kaneshiro's "Go: A Coming Of Age Novel" deals with those problems via the eyes of a teenage boy about to start his life out in the world. Sugihara (his Japanese name) is of Korean lineage and living in Japan and faces discrimination that paints every aspect of his life, including being accepted by the girl he loves. 

I didn't think I liked this book. I forgot it was a translation and so some of it reads off in certain sections, especially concerning some character development. You'll spend some time just calling Sugihara a brat. Don't worry, he's not. Just keep reading, I promise it's worth it. 

 Little pieces of what it was becoming as the early chapters went on were enough to keep me going, though (the complex relationship between his Star Wars-quoting boxer father and Sugihara is incredibly well-done, and the interactions with each of the main character's friends) and I'm so glad I did. The novel picks up steam in the middle and runs on full-throttle until breaking your heart in several ways and making you take a long hard look at the walls we put up against other people. This is a coming-of-age tale slammed against dirty concrete and punched in the face. 

Read it for that. It's a voice I'm unfamiliar with as an American (we tend to think problems like this are mostly our's and that other nations handle discrimination better-guess what, it sucks everywhere). The main characters interest in anthropology is incredibly valid and drives home the message that we are all people-the same people-we all deserve the same rights and respect. 

Grab these two reads for different reasons, but get them both. 

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