Monday, March 25, 2013
Review: A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty
Tags: young adult, Aussie YA, England, alternate worlds, epistolary, he-said/she-said
14-year-old Madeleine Tully and her mother are living in Cambridge, England after running away from her father and their former glamorous life. When Madeleine spies a piece of paper peeking out from a random parking meter and writes back, she thinks it’s crazy that Elliot Baranski, the person at the other end of the letters, claims to be from another world called the Kingdom of Cello…
…but Cello is real, and so is Elliot. For a year now, Elliot has been obsessed with the mystery of his father’s disappearance. As things unfold, however, the more it seems like there are more things wrong with Cello than he realized—and it turns out that Madeleine and Elliot could use each other’s help.
Jaclyn Moriarty and her epistolary novels were some of my favorites in my pre-blogging years. Did her latest offering live up to my now-admittedly-quite-jaded demands for quality fiction? A day after closing the book with a contented sigh, I am happy to say: yes, yes it did.
A CORNER OF WHITE possesses a sort of whimsy that is effortless and not overbearing. Reading this is not so much about understanding and relating to the main characters, or getting a complete picture of the world of Cello, but rather how Moriarty uses words that have existed elsewhere before and puts them together so that they look brand new. Her words are like color itself: surprising, vivid, and probably what we’ll remember most about the reading experience.
Many authors start their books off with attention-grabbing chapters and just sort of assume that readers will hang on through poor pacing and awkward plot twists. A CORNER OF WHITE has a fairly intriguing beginning, then doesn’t care whether or not you’re confused or ambivalent in the middle (you will be), then has a flawlessly put-together ending of Megan Whalen Turner proportions that will leave you gaping and swooning. Whether or not you understand or relate to Madeleine and Elliot, the way the story is laid out will ensnare you, so that even while you’re still exclaiming to whoever will listen that the story is confusing the heck out of you, you can’t stop turning the pages.
Not only was A CORNER OF WHITE a great reading experience for me, it also left me firmly invested in Madeleine and Elliot’s intertwined worlds and fates. The book ends satisfyingly, yet still opens up numerous possibilities to be explored in future books, which I will definitely be reading. Fans of Franny Billingsley, Catherynne Valente, Margo Lanagan, and Jasper Fforde’s writings will undoubtedly fall head over heels for this highly imaginative book.
Cover discussion: I think it's easy to glance at this cover and think it too generic, but it's one of those kinds that grows on you more after you've read and adored the story. The whimsy and the eye-catching spots of color are all there.
Arthur A. Levine Books / April 1, 2013 / Hardcover / 384pp. / $17.99
e-galley received from publisher and NetGalley. Thanks!