Every so often I get the
rare chance to read a book that I know I will treasure for the rest of my life.
I can think, offhand, of maybe three titles that have fit that description - but
after reading "The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland" I am lucky enough to have
a new book to add to that list.
I've been meaning to read Catherynne Valente for quite
some time now and it is only through great restraint that, after finishing
"Girl," I have not rushed off to buy everything she's ever written. "Girl" is
quite simply stunning. "Girl" is - to shamelessly steal a quote from another of
my favourite books - terrible and beautiful at the same time. While the genesis
of the tale is simple: a girl goes on a quest for a magic item in fairyland, the
execution is mind-bogglingly good. September's adventures through Fairyland
offer Valente a place to meditate on childhood, growing up, friendship, love,
laughter, and sadness. It is a book that children will enjoy - there is plenty
of adventure and danger to be had - but that will grow with the reader. I was
put in mind of my all-time favourite novel, "The Last Unicorn" (appropriately
enough, the author of "The Last Unicorn," Peter Beagle, has a blurb on the front
flap of "Girl"), in that there are layers upon layers of meaning to be read and
It's difficult, as a
bookseller, to come up with new ways to describe a book we loved. In the case of
a book that captures one's heart this way, old adjectives like brilliant seem
useless and tawdry. It makes me wish I were a writer of Valente's capability in
order to do justice to this little miracle of a book - alas, I am reduced to
saying you MUST read it. You must, and you must give it to every child you know,
because you will be giving them a gift that will speak something new to them at
every stage of their life; and that is a gift beyond measure.
-- Sarah L.