Monday, April 19, 2010

58. Cage of Stars by Jaquelyn Mitchard

At some point I added Cage of Stars to my master spreadsheet that tracks what books I have read for this project and what books I might want to read for it. For the life of me I can't remember when I heard about it or where, but I have a vague memory of thinking the plot sounded interesting. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find any articles or reviews about this book on my usual sites, so I can't recall exactly why it sounded interesting. 

Ronnie Swan is a sheltered young girl from a deeply religious family whose childhood abruptly ends when she witnesses the murder of her two younger sisters. At not quite 13 years old, Ronnie is baby-sitting on a bright fall day, hiding in the shed as she waits for her sisters to find her. Instead of their excited laughter, there is only silence. When Ronnie opens the door, it is to a sight that will crack her life in two. The murderer, Scott Early, is a young graduate student suffering from schizophrenia who is given treatment, rather than punishment. Upon his release from the mental health facility a few years later, Ronnie's parents meet with Scott and his wife and find relief in forgiveness. Ronnie, who went from a carefree girl to an overburdened adult in a child's body in a matter in minutes, cannot. As she enters adulthood, she carefully plans out her revenge and sets out to hand Scott the punishment she feels he never received.

I drew from the (really long) plot summary on while composing the above overview.

I really can't remember why I wanted to read this book, but I have a feeling that I thought it was more suspenseful. You know, will Ronnie be able to carry about her plan? That kind of thing. This book is really more about the process of grieving and ultimately very sad. I think you're supposed to find it uplifting at the end, but I didn't. I generally take away the sad instead of the uplifting, though.

I would advise you to steer clear of this book if you have no interest in the Mormon faith. Ronnie's family is Mormon, and there is a great deal of information about the religion and day-to-day life of a practicing Mormon family. It's as though Ronnie, our narrator, is telling this story to someone unfamiliar with the subject and has to take frequent tangents to put everything into context. I happen to have known most of the information already, so I got bored a lot. (Side note: I have a weird fascination with the FLDS cult and learned more about the LDS than I expected to when reading up on the fundamentalist off-shoot.) I don't know, maybe it was just that Ronnie's faith was such a big part of her life, motivations, world view that all of the background information simply couldn't be avoided. For whatever the reason, it didn't appeal to me.  

There were bits of foreshadowing that I liked, as always, but they fell a little flat at the end. Overall, the pace was kind of slow and I felt bored most of the time. It became a book that I just had to get through, which is never good. I don't necessarily think this is a bad book, it's just not what I expected and not really what I'm interested in. 

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