Reviewer Amy Lignor: Amy is the author of a historical fiction novel entitled The Heart of a Legend, and Mind Made, a work of science fiction. Presently, she is writing an adventure series set in the New York Public Library, as well as a teen fiction series, The Angel Chronicles. She is an avid traveler and has been fortunate to have journeyed across the USA, where she has met the most amazing people, who truly bring life and soul to her books. She lives in the Land of Enchantment (for now) with her gorgeous daughter, Shelby, her wonderful Mom, Mary, and the greatest friend and critic in the entire world - her dog, Reuben
Author: Margo Lanagan
Every once in a while a book comes along that you read once and you come to the last page utterly confused with what you've just read. So you turn back the pages and begin again, and at the end of the second read, you're just angry. This is one of those stories that brings out pretty much all the emotions a human being owns...even and, most especially, the bad ones.
This book is a piece of speculative
fiction that brings us into two worlds. In the first, we meet
Liga. Liga is a young girl who certainly has the most wretched
life that any kid could have. She is the servant in her
one-parent household. For her father, she does every scrap of
housework she can do; cooks meals for him; and, unfortunately, is
used by him in every way possible. Liga becomes pregnant and
her father rushes off to a gypsy-woman who lives in the woods, pays
her in silver, and gets a cure for his daughter's...illness.
This works more than once, until Liga is once again with child and
hides it from her father as long as she possibly can. A baby
arrives, and dad is found under a carriage soon after, stomped by a
horse. (That part made me extremely happy).
Branza is a lovely child that makes Liga's life a happy one. Unfortunately, in her world of realistic and disgusting people, they take Liga for something of a wanton woman and she is set upon once again by boys who want her for only one thing. Liga again becomes pregnant and brings Urdda into the world. Liga wants what all mom's want - a world where their children will not face the hate, anger, pain, and horror that they've faced over their lifetimes. One night, as Liga literally begs every unseen force she can, she jumps into the night sky and "poof!" - she lands back in a world that looks the same, but is populated with kindness, sweetness, no pain, no anger, no fear - the perfect heavenly world for her daughters to grow up.
There are many things and people that find the entrance into Liga's world. One is a young man who, in his own time, is participating in a "rite" from the "old world." Dressed as a bear, the young man jumps through the air and lands in Liga's world. No longer just dressed as a creature, he is an actual bear, and befriends the family of females; protecting them, he takes them into his heart. Branza and Urdda, the girls, are as different as night and day. Branza likes being with her mother and likes the kind, soft heaven she plays in every day. Urdda is the opposite. She knows there is something on the "other side" that is filled with things, creatures, and people she's never laid eyes on, and she wants to find out what it's like. Soon, Urdda gets her wish and crosses over to the other side, leaving her mom and sister back in the world they call "heaven."
The story is told in great detail, making the reader turn every page whether out of anger, disgust, or the will to see what's next. For that, the author is getting a rave review. It is rare to bring out so many emotions that someone has to keep going even though they want to toss the book across the room when something nightmarish is dealt with. The answers to questions such as, wouldn't it be great to live in a perfect, peaceful place all the time are answered by this author. Is it better to be "cast out" of heaven to experience every emotion that hell has to offer? I've always believed that we are in hell at the moment. I mean, how can you not, when you see the things that go on around us every day? I think the author feels the same way. Even though some of this story is truly horrifying, I have to recommend the reading of it. There is alot to learn from the imagery - good and bad - that this author has put down on paper, but any young adult reading this book should definitely sit with their mother and talk about the story in order to understand the intricacies that the author is trying to explain. However, there is a large part of me that longs for the olden days when Judy Blume was considered the only young adult renegade author. She certainly seems tame with the novels that are hitting the shelves nowadays. How times have changed - sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse - which, I suppose, is ultimately what tender morsels is all about.