Saturday, June 09, 2012

What is Melanie Thorne reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Melanie Thorne, author of Hand Me Down.

Her entry begins:
I’m not writing right now, which means I’m reading a lot again and it’s glorious. Glorious! Is there anything better than enjoying the sun and a good book? There are so many books that have come out recently or are coming out soon that I’m excited about, it’s been hard to prioritize.

I just read Claire Bidwell Smith’s The Rules of Inheritance and loved it. I don’t often read memoirs and I was skeptical, especially since it sounded like a depressing story. But I love Claire’s writing and we share an editor, so I picked it up after hearing all the praise and couldn’t put it down. Literally. I tried; I had things to do. It was so good I read about eighty pages straight and was totally hooked. It’s the only memoir I’ve ever finished (though Cheryl Strayed’s Wild is on my TBR list so that will likely change soon).

The book is about only-child Claire, whose parents, both of them, are diagnosed with cancer when she is fourteen. Her mom dies when she’s eighteen, her dad when she’s twenty-five. The book is...[read on]
About the book, from the publisher:
A tough, tender, debut novel, in the tradition of Dorothy Allison and Janet Fitch, Hand Me Down is the unforgettable story of a girl who travels between California and Utah in search of her true family, having never been loved best of all.

Fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Reid has spent her life protecting her sister, Jaime, from their parents' cruel mistakes. Their father, who'd rather work the system than a job, pours every dollar into his many vices, denying his daughters the shoes and clothing they need. Their mother, once a loving parent, is going through a post-post-adolescent rebellious streak and finds love with a dangerous ex-con. When she chooses starting a new family over raising her first-born girls, Elizabeth and Jaime are separated and forced to rely on the begrudging kindness of increasingly distant relatives.

A string of broken promises that begins with Liz's mother swearing, "I would never hurt you, Liz. You're family," propels her between guest beds in two states searching for a safe home. All the while, Liz is burdened by her stake in a bleak pact with a deceitful adult: to tell the truth about the darkest of her circumstances will cost her the ability to shelter Jaime. As Liz spirals into the abyss of fear and shame that haunts her sleepless nights, can she break free from her bonds in time to fight for her life?

Thorne writes with a command of language that is at once affecting and enticing. Her debut is the kind of voice-driven reading experience fiction lovers crave.
Learn more about the book and author at Melanie Thorne's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Hand Me Down.

Writers Read: Melanie Thorne.

--Marshal Zeringue