Book: Gingerbread


After getting kicked out of her posh boarding school, there’s no way wild, willful, and coffee-addicted Cyd Charisse can survive in her parents’ pristine house. When Cyd’s rebelliousness gets out of hand, her parents ship her off to New York City to spend the Summer with ‘Frank, real-dad,’ her biological father. Cyd has been waiting her whole life to get to know her bio-dad and half-sibs, but summer in the city is not what she expects–and Cyd is far from the daughter or sister that anyone could have imagined.

I like Danny and Aaron. Out of all the characters in this wonderfully weird novel, Danny and Aaron are the only ones who have a semblance of real life people. And that’s fine. I think it works for the novel to have them be normal, because everyone else isn’t.

I also like the fact that we don’t know what Cyd Charisse looks like before we get to know her. Because I think that our acceptance of her oddity would’ve been colored a different way had we known she was beautiful beforehand.

Yes, Cyd Charisse is beautiful. People find her hot, sexy, and she shouldn’t be complaining about a hard life because, as one character puts it, she’s a spoiled little rich girl. And that’s where having presented her as the weird girl that she is first comes into play. By the time we find out how privileged our main character is, we are already drawn to the part where we feel sorry for her.

We’ve already seen the cracks before we were distracted by her beauty.

I don’t think this is the best novel I’ve read. I’m not even sure if it’s something I would recommend to other people. What I do know is that I like what the novel is trying to underline: that in stories, it doesn’t really matter what your character looks like–what matters is the story they’re trying to tell. And if that’s story is worth telling.

Admittedly, Cyd Charisse doesn’t have a very interesting story. But she does have a very interesting way of telling it. And that’s what sold me to the novel. That’s the reason I kept on reading.

If you regularly read the posts I have about books, you’d have already noticed how I favor character studies. Gingerbread is one. Which, I think, is why I didn’t mind the child-like narrative. Why I’m calling the narrative child-like instead of childish.

But the way it develops its character is not through what happens. I already said the story isn’t very original. But the way Cyd Charisse the character accepts her life, the way she processes things? That’s what makes the novel different.

And that is why I liked the book enough not to regret having picked it up.

Book: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

"Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock"

Today is Leonard Peacock’s birthday. It is also the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather’s P-38 pistol.

Maybe one day he’ll believe that being different is okay, important even.

But not today.

It gets better. I mean the book. It starts out a little slow, but as you keep reading, it gets better. And then it hits you in the gut.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I was crying in the middle of Starbucks (literally, in the middle of the store) while reading this book. I guess you can say that Leonard Peacock speaks to me. Well, the subject matter at least.

No, I’m not suicidal. I think I need to write that down first. I’ve never been. I’m not well-adjusted. Not even a little bit. But, and I think I’ve written this down before, I’m way too much of a coward to even think about offing myself. And I’m way too paranoid that things would go wrong in the process, that I wouldn’t die and would have to live with a deformity for the rest of my life. I’m not kidding.

And I know I can’t dictate, but suicidal people should keep that in mind. Things can go wrong. And then what?

But, going back to the novel, Leonard Peacock isn’t suicidal either. At least, he isn’t to me. He’s a man with a plan: kill his former best friend, and then himself. He’s just trying to keep things in order.

Before you write me off as sick and deranged, I do not condone what Leonard Peacock is attempting to do. Killing is wrong. But reading Leonard’s life, you can’t blame the guy for what he wants to do.

It’s not easy to live a life without parents. Parents are supposed to be your guides, the beacon in this big world we live in. When they’re absent, whether mentally or physically, we get lost. And although a lot of us make it out okay in the end, many would lose hope. Many would turn out the way Leonard does.

But that reality by itself doesn’t make a good book. Why the novel worked for me was because author Matthew Quick didn’t pretend that things will get better. Which is ironic, seeing as how the book got better the more real it became.

Things don’t get better, but we become stronger. We work on becoming stronger. And I like how Quick has a character who imparts this. Who actually spells it out. I like how the novel doesn’t end with an ending wrapped up nicely with a bow. I feel like this is something more books should do: be real.

I know that books are supposed to be an escape. But there are times when books give us too much unreal expectations in life that we keep holding out for something better. That forces us to live more in books instead of outside in the real world. And while I’m all for more reading, I don’t want it to be at the expense of an actual life being lived.

It helps when there are novels like this that exist. Novels that remind us that if we want a good life, we have to work for it. That we have to work hard for it. That we have to get back to it.

And I think this whole post got away from me.

For a clearer perspective on the novel, let’s check out what the other netizens are saying about the book:
Helen’s Book Blog
The Tracery of Ink