Happy birthday, Alice Sebold!
In honor of the day, here’s a review of her famous novel, The Lovely Bones.
In honor of Frank McCourt’s birthday, today’s featured review is Angela’s Ashes.
Disturbances in the Field by Lynne Sharon Schwartz is one of the best novels I’ve ever read.
In honor of Michael Connelly’s birthday, here’s a review of The Black Echo, that book that introduces Connelly’s franchise series character LAPD detective Harry Bosch.
Happy birthday, Elizabeth Gilbert.
Today’s featured review is To Kill a Mockingbird, published on this date in 1960.
I’ve always been interested in books with child narrators because I think one of the hardest jobs writers can set for themselves is the creation of a child’s voice. The successful portrayal of a child narrator involves not only age-appropriate vocabulary and sentence structure, but also a way of looking at the world that fits the child’s age.
Emma Donoghue does a remarkable job with 5-year-old Jack in the novel Room. When the book first came out, some critics said that Jack sounds much older than 5. They’re right: Jack doesn’t sound like a typical 5-year old.
But that’s because Jack isn’t a typical 5-year-old. He’s a child who has been confined to a single room for his entire life. The only person he’s had contact with is his mother, who has spent every moment of Jack’s 5 years looking out for him, trying to provide him as much stimulation as possible within their restricted environment. Jack has never talked to other children, only to his mother. I would have found it strange if Jack did sound like a typical 5-year-old.
Room is one of the best examples I know of how to create a convincing child narrator.
If you have a favorite novel narrated by a child, please let us know in the comment section.
I offer this review as a good definition of what is commonly known as a “program novel” or a “propaganda novel”: a novel that is written to portray a message but that forgets the first requirement of a novel is to tell a good story and tell it well.