Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Red Shoe by Ursula Dubosarsky

I'm having a hard time putting my finger on a plot in this book. The setting is Australia post World War II and throughout the text are actual news headlines and stories about the events of the time. The newspaper clippings interested me and was why I read the book in the first place. The sad thing is, and maybe it's because I'm not Australian, but they actually added very little to the story for me. They were interesting in their own right, but almost distracting from the story.

You get a sense that it was hard to live then: dads who are home from the war are exhibiting signs of post traumatic stress, polio is rampant, the Cold War is beginning and Russia is in the news all the time. Six year old Matilda and her family are...what. I don't know. Just living. Her older sister has had a nervous breakdown. Matilda thinks spies are living next door. You get the sense that the uncle has the hots for the mom. But nothing really ever happens.

The one thing I can say for this book, and the reason it gets three stars from me, is that it is well written, in the sense that the author has a good way with words. I liked the way she expressed the thought processes of a six year old and some phrases were incredibly image provoking.

This book just left me with a weird taste in my mouth, which is disappointing because it won a major award in Australia. I guess I just didn't get it.

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