Friday, January 2, 2015

The Green Man by Michael Bedard

Review based on ARC.

What a lovely teen fantasy. Bedard pays tribute to bookstores, creativity and poetry, and the Green Man himself in his aptly named book. The Green Man is the bookstore owned by Ophelia's ("O") aunt Emily, named after the legend of the Green Man, a protector who stands between the worlds and where life began. While O's father travels to research Ezra Pound, he sends O to Emily for the summer in a dual effort to ensure both are taken care of. Initially, fifteen-year-old O and seventy-year-old Emily clash in some to-be-expected ways, but eventually their similarities and common love of poetry and all things related thereto draw them into a very close relationship. Although each believes she is really taking care of the other, Bedard has deftly created an actual dual relationship that feels organic and true.

While visiting Emily at the Green Man, O learns about not only the magic of poetry and poets, but also about a recurring sinister plan that continues to plague her aunt and the town in which she lives. Saying much more about the plot would ruin it, so I won't.

What I will say is that I loved this little YA novel that is atmospheric, soft, and lovely. It has ghosts and books and hot summers. It lifts up jazz and pays homage to the receding world of used bookstores. There is also darkness and hard life, an acknowledgment of the deterioration of such a world and the effects it can and does have on real people. It is somewhat gothic and somewhat romantic.  It is simple as a YA, but will appeal to book and bookstore lovers alike. To me, it gave just a little of a lot, just enough to satiate, just enough to squeeze your heart and then leave you for a peaceful night's sleep.

Highly recommended.
FOUR AND A HALF of five stars (boosted to 5 on sites w/o halves).

I note that I am *not* typically a fan of poetry. While this novel is about poets at its heart, and the power of poetry to those moved by it, and while this novel occasionally drops a poem here and there, it is not overdone and definitely did not turn me off, despite my natural disinclination to poetry.

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