Title: How To Buy a Love of Reading
Author: Tanya Egan Gibson
Publication date: May 14th, 2009
To Carley Wells, words are the enemy: the countless SAT lists from her tutor, the “fifty-seven pounds overweight” assessment from her personal trainer, and most of all, the “confidential” Getting To Know You assignment from her insane English teacher (whose literary terminology lessons include “Backstory is Afterbirth” and “Setting is Nobody’s Slut”). When he tells her parents that she’s answered “What is your favorite book?” with “Never met one I liked,” they become determined to fix what he calls her “intellectual impoverishment.” They will commission a book to be written for Carley that she’ll have to love—one that will impress her teacher and the whole town of Fox Glen with their family’s devotion to the arts. They will be patrons—the Medicis of Long Island. They will buy their daughter The Love Of Reading.
Impossible though it is for Carley to imagine ever loving words, she is in love with a young bibliophile who cares about them more than anything. Anything, that is, but a good bottle of scotch. Hunter Cay, Carley’s best friend and Fox Glen’s resident golden boy, is becoming a stranger to her as he drowns himself in F. Scott Fitzgerald, booze, and Vicodin.
When the Wellses move writer Bree McEnroy—author of a failed meta-novel about Odysseus’s voyages through the Internet—into their mansion to write Carley’s book, Carley’s sole interest in the project is its potential to distract Hunter from drinking and give them something to share. Instead, as Hunter’s behavior becomes erratic and dangerous, she finds herself drawn into the fictional world Bree has created and begins to understand for the first time the power of stories—those we read, those we want to believe in, and most of all, those we tell ourselves about ourselves. Stories powerful enough to destroy a person.
Or save her.
How To Buy a Love of Reading was a bit hard for me to get in to at first, with the first sentence being 78 words long and the first 50 or so pages seemingly not taking off anywhere. But then I started to get used to the style of writing, the story started to pick up a bit, and I loved it. Between the interesting (for lack of a better word) style of writing and the type of world in which the characters live, it made for an interesting book. I was expecting a novel about, well, a girl whose parents try to have a perfect book written for their daughter who wants nothing to do with reading. And while that WAS the main focus of the story, in a way, it went way beyond that.
This book was much more complex than I thought it would be, and mostly went into detail of the lives of 4 main characters, it seemed. Each of them was interesting in their own way, and I came to love all of them. There was the relationship between Carley and Hunter, and the relationship between Bree and Justin. There was a lot going on in this book all at once, and in order to really understand what I was reading, I had to be right on top of it. This is not one of those books that you can sit and read in one sitting. It's not an easy book to read if you can't easily comprehend a lot of things at once, especially in the style of writing it was written. But if you can look past that and sort of adapt yourself to the book, it's full of interesting ideas and unique characters.
With this book, it seems to be either a love or hate thing. I've read reviews of people who loved it and found it interesting, with a few exceptions here and there (*raises hand*), but on the other hand I've read reviews of people who simply couldn't get past the writing and put the book down because they found it to be slow and unsatisfying. Though it did have its quirks, I personally really liked it. Just a fair warning, though - it's not for everyone.
Overall grade: A