Monday, November 16, 2015

Book Review: Greensleeves

Greensleeves by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

Rating: PG (for romance)

Recommended for: Ages 15 to Adult

For eighteen-year-old Shannon Lightley, life’s been an endless parade across Europe, following either her actress mother or her renowned journalist father. Paris, Milan, London—Shannon has been everywhere, but somewhere along the way, she realizes she’s really…nowhere.

Having graduated from high school and about to board yet another flight for yet another destination, Shannon is offered an alternative: stay in Portland, Oregon, with her parents’ close friend and help his law firm investigate a group of strangers living near the local university. A will with a substantial inheritance is being contested, and Shannon’s task is to gather information on the unlikely recipients of the money.

Using an assumed name and working as a waitress in a diner, Shannon finds herself entirely on her own for the first time in her life; and as the long summer days go by, she tries to sort out who she really is and what her future holds.

A week ago, I didn't know this book existed. Last Thursday, I came across a link to this review on Twitter. Odd, because I rarely actually scroll through my Twitter feed, and even more rarely click on any links (unless they're behind-the-scenes information on Doctor Who; those I can scarcely resist). I suppose it was the author name that intrigued me: Eloise Jarvis McGraw. Since the review made it sound incredibly interesting, it was $1.99 on kindle, I still have gift card (I tend to hoard it for moments like this), I'd really enjoyed the author's The Golden Goblet and Moccasin Trail and my library doesn't have Greensleeves, I decided on impulse to buy it. It's definitely for a different audience than those books; those are middle grade historical fiction and Newbery Honors. Greensleeves is a 60s teen contemporary novel with a dash of mystery and intrigue and a lot about finding direction in life.

I rarely read contemporary teen fiction, 50 years old or otherwise. If I read any era of contemporary, it's usually middle grade. As for teen fiction, I have a friend who reads a lot of it and her reviews are usually enough to steel my determination to avoid it. A lot of the teen fiction books I hear about sound wildly inappropriate, my main reason for avoiding them, other than the fact that I generally enjoy adventure the most. Greensleeves certainly isn't. There is kissing in the book, and Shan does analyze how different guys make her feel, but it's rather less than what's in The Hunger Games. (In case you're wondering why I make the comparison, since I also did it in my Cinderella post, THG is basically my as-far-as-I'll-go-on-Content, which I realize isn't incredibly far.)

I have a lot of unread books on my kindle, yes, bought ones as well as free ones. It's mostly typical for me to download a book and let it sit there. However, Saturday came and since I'd spent Friday out in the woods with my sisters and our friend filming an impromptu movie, stayed up past midnight to show her Star Wars, and then gotten up earlier than I would have liked so I'd be up before her parents came to pick her up, following that up with a trip to the post office and several hours editing our movie, and a 45 minute nap (I never take naps) because I was so tired, I really didn't feel like trudging through the really old books that don't get good until halfway through, and I wanted something different. Besides, Greensleeves had intrigued me. So I did little else from that late afternoon until late Sunday afternoon besides read that book. (Of course I didn't read it during church, just to and from church.)

I really enjoyed it. Shannon is a girl who really doesn't know what she wants out of life. I'm sure everyone's felt that way at some point. And even though I do know what I want from life and I am pursuing some of those things, I still can't help feeling directionless and like I'm waiting for something to happen. Shan goes under cover to help her Uncle Frosty investigate a strange will, but also because she's tired of Shan Lightley and her problems, and just wants to be someone else for awhile. She's trying to find herself. While I don't exactly identify with her struggle for identity, I can understand her fears that people wouldn't like her if they knew the real her. Probably why I liked it, besides the natural intrigue of the peculiar will and the interesting, varied people named in it which is bound to excite me, is because I can understand her struggles.

I have to say, though, my favorite character is Sherry. Gone are the days when I didn't like guy characters simply because they were guys. Sherry (his full name is George Maynard Sherrill) is an interesting guy. He’s good and smart and intellectual, kind of shy, very perceptive, extremely curious, and he wants to learn just to know things. He studied Greek because he wanted to know how people in Greece sounded. He wanted to learn integral calculus so he would know what people were talking about when they said “integral calculus.” I didn’t like Dave Kulka. He kind of reminded me of Dean Priest from the Emily of New Moon books by L. M. Montgomery, and that’s not exactly a good association. The characters are all very well developed, and so is the little world Shan stepped into when she went to College Street and became Georgetta Einszweiler Smith. It all felt so real.

Greensleeves is a good book. The ending was slightly unsatisfactory due to being a bit inconclusive, but I guess I can make up my own epilogue. I’d say it’s geared towards older teen girls and that’s probably the best audience for it, but I would recommend it. It gave me a nice weekend and some food for thought.

(P.S. Do you prefer story-of-my-experience-with-the-book reviews or literary analysis reviews?)

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