Saturday, March 17, 2012

Chine, by Franny Billingsley

This was a reading accident!  My local independent book store had it up on the end of an aisle.  As I was waiting for a book discussion group I picked it up and began reading.   In the 20 minutes before the discussion I got hooked and put it on my "to read" list.

The book is a sophisticated read.  It was a finalist in the National Book Awards competition this year (for young adults).  It is well deserving of the honor but won't be for every reader.  The main character, Briony, is the narrator.  Set in a bizarre rural England setting, Briony has suffered some sort of trauma that makes her first person narration quite unreliable.  I was able to predict the resolution, but not all the details.  Even so, I was captivated by the language and tone of the book.

Billingsley writes almost poetically.  Readers have to be sensitive to her use of unexpected terms and willing to expend the intellectual power to infer her meanings.  It is not a simple book to read.  For a sophisticated reader however it is a book that will haunt you during the day.  I found myself eager to return to the story each evening.  I developed quite an attachment to Briony and will be eager to read the next book.

The Lexile rating of this book (600) is prefaced with an "HL"--meaning high/low--and easy reading book that will appeal to older students.  They recommend it for ages 13-17.  I can easily see Billingsley becoming a favorite author of many late middle/early high school readers.

No comments: