Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mid-Week Book/Movie Review: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

My dad thought it might be a fun idea if I started doing book and movie reviews, so I'm going to start typing up what I think about the many stories I've read or watched on screen. Tonight I'm going to start with a book that I finished reading this afternoon during a nice lunch at Chick-Fil-A: Stephen King's The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.

Stephen King is one of my favorite writers. And although I don't like the endings of all his books (sometimes they downright piss me off, but hey, he's Stephen King so he can do whatever he wants), this one was great from start to finish.

The premise is this: a girl, around 9 years old, goes on a trek in the woods with her mom and brother. Mom and bro fight constantly, in part because Mom divorced Dad not too long ago and has made the kids move and deal with the separation as most children now have to do. So automatically, most of us can relate. The main character is also a tom boy, which I found fun because it reminded me of when I was young. She gets lost on the trek and ends up having to survive in the very dangerous wilderness of the Northeast US.

King paints a beautiful yet deadly view of nature in a way that only King can. The normal sightings of a trail hike, such as fallen logs, streams, and even the annoying buzz of mosquitoes soon become frightening when our heroine has to tackle them for days at a time. The descriptions are great. You feel like you are in the woods with her, and you like this girl, so you're rooting for her all the way.

The story is one of King's shorter novels, and it reads super fast. The only thing that kept me from reading it in one or two sittings was the fact that it was just the Christmas Holidays, and I had to work. But trust me--it's really hard to put down. One of the things getting her through is her radio, which broadcasts baseball games that star her crush and hero, Tom Gordon. King does extensive research on everything he writes, so the details are excellent, from what it would be like if a person got stung multiple times by wasps, to the details of a Red Sox game broadcast on the airwaves.

Also, though the story is set in a realistic world, it becomes otherworldly as the girl has to find food and shelter in what we normally would think of as being a beautiful nature painting. Not so beautiful in reality. King also has a penchant for the odd and otherworldly, and this story does not fall short there. We begin to wonder if the things she is seeing are real or part of her imagination, and we hope it's her imagination, because King's creations are quite horrifying.

Yet another reason I like King is his English background. He taught high school, and he knows how to use excellent grammar. In a world full of fun and creative but badly written books, King always provides a breath of fresh air for us "Grammar Nazis."

Something that sets this particular King book apart from his others is his hint of something supernatural and good that watches over us. King usually throws a religious zealot into his tales for the readers to hate, but in this one, it's only the girl, the mysterious evil she encounters in the woods, and something she hangs onto that keeps her going through her trial. It's almost like a Koontz book in that respect. But it's still very, very King.

All in all, I give it two thumbs up and recommend it to anyone wanting a good read.

One warning--King does use colorful language from time to time, but if you're like my mother, you can always get your sharpie pen out and black out the "bad words." Seriously, though, he tones it down a lot for this one, considering the amount of sailor talk in some of his other books. The language doesn't ever bother me much--I consider it aspects of his often seriously screwed up characters--but I know it might some people, so I thought I'd throw that out there. Speaking of language, King never falls short of plenty of fun colloquialisms that always entertain.

You're sure to find a copy anywhere, be it Barnes and Noble, or a used bookstore. I found mine at Halfprice Books in the Clearance section for only $1. And I have to say, it was one of the best $1's that I've spent.

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