Wednesday, October 7, 2009

REVIEW: Little (Grrl) Lost

De Lint, C. (2009) Little (Grrl) Lost
288 pages – 9780142413012

Thirty Second Summary: T.J.’s parents have uprooted the family and moved them to the city, leaving her friends and her beloved horse behind. She doesn’t think she’ll ever adjust to her new surroundings… until a door in her floorboard opens up, and a six-inch-tall “Little” named Elizabeth stomps into her life.

I honestly wasn’t that enthralled with this book, but the *cover* -- well, you know my feelings about fun covers, and this one is a winner. When I was fourteen, I would have been willing to pay every penny I owned to look like Elizabeth. Heck, I’d still be willing to do it! Purple hair? Rockin’ boots?! Loves it and wants it!

But back to what’s inside the cover.

Little (Grrl) Lost is a twisty mix of realism and fantasy – fitting, given the twisty, “willy-nilly” nature of the Littles, fairies, goblins, and Rat Kings that pepper the novel. De Lint’s writing style mirrors this as well. It may be off-putting to some readers, with its rapidly-switching, multiple points-of-view narration. You’ll be surprised when you realize that the majority of the book takes place over just a few days – by flipping from character to character, the story seems much more expansive.

Elizabeth and T.J., oddly enough, don’t interact nearly as much as you’d expect given the initial premise of the book. It’s this separation, however, which enables them both to come into their own. Elizabeth, desperate to travel and explore and break free of her parents’ expectations, battles cats, barters for wings, and navigates the confusion of the (semi-obligatory) Goblin Market. At the same time, T.J. struggles to make her way in a new town, battling bullies instead of cats, and (surprise!) finding something that might be maybe love.

Despite all the action and adventure, I couldn’t quite get into this story. It’s fine as a nothing-else-to-do read, but not something I’d go out and purchase. At times, Little (Grrl) Lost seemed almost clichéd – a crazed mix of Indian in the Cupboard and Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen and, of course, The Littles. My sources on The Internets tell me that De Lint originally wrote this as a short story – Perhaps that’s why parts of it seemed stretched too thin, as though he knew he had another hundred pages to fill and had to figure out a way to oomph the plot up a bit more. When Elizabeth begins ranting that she’s “totally hot and bored, and rethinking this whole idea of tagging along with T.J.” I found myself agreeing with the sentiment.

Quotes of Note:

There were a lot of things she didn’t like about this new house in the suburbs, but she didn’t think she could logically add wall-dwelling crows to the list. (p. 2)

“Aw, crap, this is coming out all wrong,” he said. “I’m just trying to say I’m sorry.”

“You’re not really. You’re just trying to justify being a bully.” T.J. wasn’t sure when it had happened in this conversation, but somehow she’d gone from being scared to just feeling annoyed. (p. 164)

”Miss?” the biker asked her. Okay. He looked really tough. And the knuckles of the hand that was holding the six-pack were scabbed and red, like he’d been hitting a brick wall. But he seemed very polite. (p. 184)

Bakro shrugs. “Why do Bigs do most of the things they do?” I think he’s just being rhetorical until I realize he’s waiting for an answer.

“Because they can,” I tell him, the way my parents drilled it into my head over the years.

“Exactly. It’s the one thing a Little can’t ever forget.” (p. 99)

Tasty Rating: !!!

If you thought this was delicious, try:

Tamsin by Robert Beagle

Beagle weaves an equally-twisty fantasy/reality story, with much more poetic results.

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