Thursday, August 11, 2011

Amy Reed

Amy Reed is a YA author living in Oakland, California. She is the author of Beautiful (Simon Pulse, 2009) and her most recent novel, Clean, which has been described as “the Breakfast Club in rehab.”

Last month I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
A book I read recently and absolutely adored was Room by Emma Donoghue. This is one of those books that deserves every bit of attention it’s received, which has been a lot--it’s been nominated for a ton of big awards and continues to be a best-seller in paperback. It’s the story of a young mother and her 5-year old son who are living together in an 11x11 foot room. The mother was kidnapped seven years earlier, and her son Jack has never known a world besides the room.

It would be easy for a book like this to use plot as a crutch--the stakes are always so high that the reader would probably stay hooked even if the writing was mediocre. But, my god, the writing is anything but. I’m a sucker for a strong 1st person voice, especially if it’s a kid’s, and this is by far one of the strongest and most compelling narrative voices I’ve ever read. This is an entire novel written in the voice of a five-year old, and I believed every second of it. I’m a big fan of five-year olds in general, how they straddle the worlds of logic and magic, and Jack brought that unique blend of wisdom and innocence to everything he experienced and described. Through him, Donoghue was able to paint a complex and surprising world where we were forced to notice things we normally wouldn’t. Yes, it was disturbing, but it was also strangely beautiful. In the way a bad acid trip might be beautiful, but still.

It’d be hard to think of a much more depressing premise, but for me, Room felt far from depressing. Through Jack’s eyes we saw a very scary world, but we saw it with the filter of someone who hasn’t lost hope. It’s a story about courage and love and what people are capable of in the most hopeless of circumstances. And I am always a sucker for books like that.
Visit Amy Reed's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Writers Read: Amy Reed (October 2009).

--Marshal Zeringue