Tag Archives: Midwinterblood

Marcus Sedgwick

ImageWhen I posted a breathlessly admiring review of Midwinterblood on January 26th, just hours before it won the Printz Award, I had no idea that I would be able to meet its author, Marcus Sedgwick, just a few months later. My friend, Danielle, emailed me a couple of weeks ago and asked if I would like to go see him at Quail Ridge Books (support your local, independent bookstore!!), and I said, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” I knew that he had a new book coming out, too, and when She Is Not Invisible arrived at the library the day before his visit, I took it home and read as much as I could before his presentation, and then finished it the next day.

Mr. Sedgwick sat down with us and talked in that charming British accent that makes Americans swoon. (Why is that?) He told us that his latest book helped him to work out his curiosity about coincidences, as well as his obsession with the number 354. If you look closely at She Is Not Invisible, you will see that every chapter title has words with three, five, and four letters. One four-page section is written entirely in words with those same numbers. Even the dedication to his daughter, Alice, has two 3-5-4 sequences. The characters in the book also run into this number continually.

ImageThe main character, Laureth, takes her younger brother, Benjamin, from England to New York— without their mother’s knowledge— on a hunch that they might find their father there. She has no idea where he is, but he hasn’t been answering her texts, and she is worried that her parents’ squabbling may mean that he is doing more than just research for his next book. As risky as it is for any sixteen-year-old to travel to another country, this trip is even more complicated by the fact that Laureth is blind.

Sedgwick related his experiences while doing research at the school for the blind in England. He got to know many of the students well, and when he asked them what bothered them most about dealing with sighted people, they said that it was when people treated them as if they were invisible. It was not uncommon for them to have had sighted people talk to the person beside them about them, as if they were not there or could not hear. Hence, the name of the book.

Does coincidence have meaning? Do certain numbers have universal significance? Sedgwick delves into Jungian psychology, physics, and the lives of writers in order to investigate his fascination. She Is Not Invisible is carefully crafted, mysterious, and appropriate for anyone twelve and up. It will make you think.

ImageMy heart, however, still belongs to Midwinterblood. As a librarian, I rarely buy books, and when I do, I have usually read them already and know that they are the cream of the crop. I happily purchased a copy of Midwinterblood with the thick, gold Printz medal on the front and chatted with Marcus Sedgwick as he signed the black title page with a silver pen. It is now sitting on the “signed editions” shelf of my bookcase. I can’t wait to read it again!

Disclaimer: I read a library copy of She Is Not Invisible. Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Books and reading

Midwinterblood, by Marcus Sedgwick

ImageI am rushing to get this review in the night before the Printz Award is announced, particularly because I believe it to be a strong contender. Should it win nothing, you should still know about it.

This is the story of Eric and Merle, and Eirikr and Melle, and five other pairs in between. In seven stories, we watch a mythological tale being acted out, weaving in and out of history with the players wearing different faces in each age. We first meet Eric in the near future, 2073, as a visitor to Blest Island. He is a journalist intent on investigating the rumors that the inhabitants of this small island in the far north are living extraordinarily long lives. Some say that they live forever. When he arrives, he finds that there are no hotels, and that the residents are not fond of visitors. He does feel an instant connection to Merle, however, and if he believed in love at first sight, he would say that he’s found his soulmate. As the days go by, Eric begins to think that there is a dangerous secret on the island—that is, when he can think at all. He comforts himself with a mug of the island’s special tea each evening and wakes up to a sumptuous breakfast prepared by a hand he never sees. Surely life cannot drift this way forever. Indeed, it cannot.

Mystery, danger, love, and violence work backward through the chapters to a time before stories were written, and always Eric and Merle find one another. Sometimes they are brother and sister, sometimes lovers, sometimes mother and son, sometimes just friends. There are other recurring characters, too, always pulling to the same inevitable conclusion.

If I tell you that I do not care for short stories, you will understand what high praise it is for me to call Midwinterblood a phenomenal achievement. At the moment, I want to start over at the beginning so that I can catch all of the details, now that I know the conclusion—which is actually the beginning. This book is tightly woven and makes a perfect circle from future to past and around again. It is beautiful and tragic and frustrating and sweet. As I have done for earlier books, I will say that I’m not sure why it was published as a young adult book, since the characters are almost all adults. However, unlike The Kingdom of Little Wounds, it is perfectly appropriate for teens, and I think they will like it a lot. But why should they have all the fun? Adults, especially Cloud Atlas fans, will love it, too.

Very highly recommended for teens and adults.

Update: It won!!!!

Disclaimer: I read a library copy of this book. Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.

2 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews