Thursday, August 27, 2009

American Cream, by Catherine Tudish

So, I crack this book open and the first scene...another death/burial. Two books in a row...too weird. This one, narrated in a whimsical tone by the dead person herself, sets an entirely different tone than the opening of that would lead you to believe that the book is going to have some fantasy/magical realism aspects. But you would be wrong: the rest of the book is a rather straightforward family drama.

Virginia, daughter of the dead woman in the first chapter, is in a snit because her father has remarried just a year after his wife's death (and he married the school lunch lady, which seems to intensify her anger). When her father rolls his tractor and is injured, Virginia decides she must spend the summer helping with the farm work--and she drags her 14-year-old son along with her (leaving her doctor-husband at home). She hooks up with her high school boyfriend (now married and the father of four), buys two rare American Cream horses in an attempt to keep her father from selling the family farm, and gets a wake-up call when her son runs away with the slutty neighbor girl. Oh please.

Most of the book is written in third-person from Virginia's perspective--but the author occasionally throws in a brief chapter in first-person from another character's perspective (Virginia's son, the stepmother, the disabled friend). I'm guessing the author is trying to give us other people's takes on Virginia...but really, we don't need them. We know more than we need to about her.

American Cream isn't a terrible book, but I don't recommend it.

Favorite passage:
"I'm too old to have a stepmother," she told him. "Only kids have stepmothers. And unlucky girls in fairy tales."

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