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Some books I've read this week.

A Song for Summer: Really, really fantastic.  Marvelous.  Amazing characters, a slow-building but ultimately soul-delighting romance, and such picturesque descriptions that it brings you under a spell, transporting you completely to that Austrian idyll.

And then there is part 2. [spoilers for remainder of book abound]

Which, seriously?  SERIOUSLY?  DO NOT WANT.  The inside cover says "...Ellen is happier than she's ever been.  But what happens when the menace of Hitler's reign reached the idyllic world of the Hallendorf School gives this romantic, intelligent tale a combination of charm and power that only the very best storytellers can achieve.

Incorrect!  That is where the story takes a sharp downturn into Permanent Suckdom!  I mean, sure, there's eventually a happy ending and they even have a kid and all that, but I still feel rather sick to my stomach when I think about the fact that those interim years existed.  I don't want to know there was a marriage to Kendrick, in any capacity - which, digression, when people have marriages of convenience, don't any of them ever go 'hey, why don't we just agree to skip the awkward Naked Time part?'  I mean, not everyone is able to have kids.  IT'S NOT LIKE ANYONE WOULD BE ABLE TO USE THAT AS PROOF THEY WEREN'T DOING IT.

In a related note, props to Ibbotson for managing to write bedroom scenes that serve as transitional plot points, and emphatically get across the intended feelings of dizzying closeness (Marek!) or recreate THE most uncomfortable-sounding atmosphere I've ever read (Kendrick!), without ever once being in any way explicit.  WRITERS OF ADULT BOOKS, PLEASE TO BE TAKING LESSONS FROM HER.

Anyway, yeah.  I wouldn't have minded if it was just Marek getting all dark and twisty with rage and vendetta; I could have dealt with their multiple years of separation - although on second thought, it did WOUND ME DEEPLY when she actually found him and stayed by his side at the hospital, only to have his temper and madness drive her away - but I cannot deal with the years she was married to Kendrick.  I was, thankfully, immediately suspicious of whether or not the baby that Marek's grandmother saw her holding was hers - not that it stopped me from a subtle pang of OH GOD, AUTHOR-PERSON, IF YOU HAVE IRREPARABLY BROKEN ANY CHANCE OF HER LEAVING KENDRICK BY SADDLING THEM WITH A CHILD, I AM EXACTING SOME MAREK-STYLE REVENGE - but it's still just this black scar.

Sometimes, I like stories where characters manage to overcome obstacles both physical and emotional, even if it means going through other partners first (Jim and Pam!), and I'm so relieved when they finally get together that it makes everything beforehand worth it.  But this is not one of those stories.  To think how they go from such unblemished, rapturous happiness and plans to at long last have her see Pettelsdorf and get married -- look at this awesomeness!
"Are you hungry?" Marek said.  "Would you like to stop somewhere for lunch?", and she wondered how soon it would be before just seeing him turn his head would no longer send her heart leaping.  It would stop, this joy, she told herself; she had watched married couples on the Underground, in tea shops, and it was clear they didn't feel like this, but at the moment it was impossible to imagine.
She shook her head.  "I'm fine."
But he decided to stop the car just the same.  "It seems I need to kiss you," he explained.  "If you have no objection."


-- to suddenly PETTELSDORF IS BURNING, WORLD: *EXPLODES* just seemed unnecessary and cruel.  You set up your romance too perfectly, Ibbotson, innocent and largely untouched.  I don't like you suddenly introducing Seriously Dark Angst.  (though, you know, if you'd ended the story there, I might have bought it.  It'd still be  tragic and sad if he had died running in vain into the burning house, but that would at least have been an emotional powerhouse of a sad ending, versus the long string of misery you introduce before the technically happy ending)

Also, I lost count of how many times I wanted to punch Kendrick in his sniveling face during part 2.  Prior to that point, I had merely found him a vaguely sad background character, one who didn't particularly bother me one way or another.  That quickly changed.

The point is, by the time we got to the happy ending, far too much time had passed and everything was too changed and sad.  Up to the end of part 1, I was actually putting this book on the list of ones I want to own.  It was that good.  But now I have no desire to subject myself to that bad heartache again.

Fail.  (well, half-fail)
------
In a totally unrelated note, I think whoever decided Tweak was a YA novel was tweaked out themselves when they made that decision.  I realize the author (who based the book on his experience...it's basically a semi-fictionalized memoir) isn't even 30 and he was in his late teens/early 20's when he went through it, but has the bland edge of adult fiction.  It doesn't feel approachable; I'm not sure how to explain it, but it definitely came across like something you'd find on the general shelves.  I struggled through the first 30 or 40 pages, finding it hard to connect/latch on to the plot, and I swear only my stubborn love of drug-addiction stories kept me going.  It ended up fairly interesting by the end, but teen fiction it was not.  Teen fiction is better.

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