Review: The Freak Observer

The Freak Observer
The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t summarize worth a dang, so if you need a summary, find it here. First up, this cover–this cover, people! On the whole, I think that these days middle grade and chapter books get the better covers–illustrations, significant objects, great color schemes–while YA has become a wasteland of severed heads, torsos, and wickedly photo-shopped faces. But Woolston’s Morris Award Winning novel avoids that sad fate, and has a cover–and back cover–design that give the reader a huge, satisfying clue about what is in store when they begin reading, which is the whole purpose of having a book cover in the first place.

I’ve had this book since I picked it up at ALA following the YA Author Coffee Klatch. Blythe was one of the authors that came to my table and talking with her was really a joy. She was thoughtful, modest, excited, and a steadfast lover of libraries, librarians, and storytelling. In our packet was a note that we could get a free signed copy of her book at the Carolrhoda Lab booth, so following the breakfast I made that my first stop.

I read most of this book while at ALA, mostly before I went to sleep at night, and then finished it on the train ride back home to Chicago. As the cover promised, this book is visceral yet clinical, detached and engaging, tugging equally at your mind and your heart.

I love this book, you guys. I love it because it both filled and created a whole in my heart. I love it because Loa is me, and I am Loa, and Loa is a direct descendant of Meg Murray (sex drive and all–do you realize how many kids Meg Murray O’Keefe ended up having? A LOT And can you blame her, being married to Calvin?? NO, you CAN’T, so don’t even TRY). I love it because it has a family that is lower/middle/working class, a family that makes hard decisions and yet can still get excited about finally living at an address where you can get pizza delivered.

For fans of: Madeline L’Engle’s Time novels, the ballroom sequence in Labyrinth, Blankets by Craig Thompson, Trespasser’s William, walking fast on a cold day so your nose runs and your eyes sting, handwritten letters, agape love, and Blue Plate Special by Michelle D. Kwasney.

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