The "Click" Unclucked

It's Book Club Blogger Review Day!

This month the club's selection, Tove Jansson's The Summer Book, was chosen by Cydney the voice behind Material Lives.

I wanted to like this book.  I really did.

As mentioned earlier, when I started it I just didn't "get" it.  I couldn't find a plot line, the characters weren't drawing me in and it was structured in such a way that I couldn't figure out what the heck I was reading.  Miraculously somewhere in the book's middle I fell in love with a chapter and had high hopes of a drastic turn. {It was the chapter in which Grandma & Sophia break into the "new neighbor's" house.} Alas, the turn was not to be.

Here's the thing, this book made me feel stupid.

I completely missed the point that I'm certain exists.  I just could not connect with the author's writing style.  It felt incoherent and its lack of continuity was confusing and seemed disorganized. The whole time I was reading it I felt as though I was at a dinner party where the rest of the guests spoke a different language.  I was continuously frustrated that I could hear the conversation going on but it made no sense to me. Throughout the book I caught glimpses of imagery that pointed toward some hidden jewel.  But try as I might, I was unable to connect the dots and uncover the treasure.  Though one chapter led me to believe that perhaps the story had finally "clicked," I disappointedly discovered in the next chapter that the click had unclucked.  (Pretty sure I just made up a word there.  You heard "unclucked" here first, folks.)

I'm quite certain an enormous part of the problem was how and when I read The Summer Book.  Reading it during a hectic time of year, in a very disjointed way did me no favors.  I read 3/4 of it at the beginning of the month and the last few chapters earlier this week in an effort to force myself to finish in time to publish this review. I also read it right after Little Bee and read (the pretty hysterical) Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress during the same period.  Both of those books are written in a much more "in your face" style.  As a reader, I never felt like I was searching for meaning, it was crystal clear on every page.  Reading The Summer Book in their midst lead to unfair comparisons on my part.  Perhaps sitting down with The Summer Book and reading it in one fell swoop or giving it my undivided (read: non-Holiday) attention would change my opinion.

But frankly, I'm intimidated.  I don't particularly like to feel like I'm the only English speaker at the party.  It's unsatisfying (and a bit demoralizing) to so thoroughly miss the point.  In the end though, I recognize that perhaps the problem is that I didn't take time to learn the language before going to the party; not that everyone else is enjoying the conversation. 

I can't wait to read the other club member's reviews and reactions.  {Did you guys speak the language?}  You can read what everyone else thought too by visiting Charlotte's blog The Daily Snapshot.