Thursday, August 4, 2022

Two Books I Learned from this Year: Multiple Narrators by Mary Ann Rodman

We're currently talking about One Book I Learned from Over the Past year. I know, I know...it's supposed to be one book, but why confine yourself to just one?  I've read a ton of middle grade fiction this year, and lot of them had multiple POV's. 

Maybe it's a subconscious thing. My long festering WIP has multiple (three) POV's. Perhaps the Universe is nudging me, with all these excellent examples of how to juggle different narratives. 

The Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman takes place during the Chernobyl disaster. Eleven-year-olds Oksana and Valentina find themselves evacuating to Leningrad alone...no parents, no teachers. Additionally, the girls are sworn enemies. The chapters alternate each girl's POV, in third person limited. A third voice from 40 years in the past occasionally shows up.  Her identity isn't learned until the end of the book. In addition to the effects of a nuclear meltdown, Blankman takes on anti-Semitism, child abuse (mental and physical), religious beliefs and living in the Soviet Union. Heavy as these topics are, Blankman handles them in an age-appropriate manner. Even though the three main characters are girls of the same age, each has a distinctive voice and personality. 

Erin Entrada Kelly's Those Kids From Fawn Creek dropped me into a familiar locale. For many years, I taught in a small, isolated school like Fawn Creek, a place where everyone is either related, or has known each other since birth. A town where no one ever leaves, and no one new moves in. Not until Orchid Mason arrives in the 7th grade, throwing the school's well-established social order askew.. Orchid is a mystery girl who has been all over the world, so how does she wind up in Fawn Creek, Louisiana? The eleven other 7th graders speculate through the alternating perspectives of main characters Greyson, Dorothy and Janie. (There is also a chapter where each of the boys in the class has a short section weighing in with their thoughts about Orchid and girls in general.) Additionally, of the three main characters, each, at some point, is also an unreliable narrator. Who is telling the truth? What is the truth? Can anyone ever know? 
Having read these two books in the same week, my long dormant WIP characters are stretching and yawning, waking up after a long pandemic's nap. I think they're ready to come out and play. 

So am I.

Posted by Mary Ann Rodman