Saturday, August 28, 2010
One For Sorrow by Christopher Barzak
One For Sorrow is Christopher Barzak's debut novel, about a teenage boy named Adam who forges an odd bond with a reclusive boy from his school named Jamie. When Jamie's body is discovered near train-tracks in the nearby woods, he appears in the form of a ghost to Adam, who then decides to embark on building a deeper friendship with him, even though he's dead!
According to the synopsis for One For Sorrow, the novel is comparable to Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. As much as we love The Catcher in the Rye and because we're looking forward to some amazing similarities, I regret to say that Adam's character doesn't really resemble Holden Caulfield at all -- the differences are more comedic than anything. As a reader, I am unable to intimately relate to Adam, and the novel makes for a very detached experience.
Adam's inner-monologue is extremely repetitive and we find ourselves reading the same content over and over and over again...he's on and off again with his girlfriend Gracie, and there's some strange homosexual undertones with Jamie.
The plot seems to stand still -- and I'm not quite sure what message Barzak is trying to send when describing the homosexual feelings between Adam and Jamie. Is this all part of the "teenager-trying-to-discover-his- identity-and-place-in-life" ploy? Either way, it's not very coming-of-age and not very original; just plain weird.
One For Sorrow is dark and troubled, as we learn what Adam has in common with Jamie. Adam is your typical troubled, "emo" teen who contemplates suicide as Jamie challenges Adam's purpose in life throughout the novel. When Adam is finally liberated, I'm not so sure we feel triumphant, but rather glad the novel is not another example of pathetic teenage tragedy.
Since One For Sorrow was published, Christopher Barzak has written The Love We Share Without Knowing (2008). If you like plots along the lines of Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones, perhaps you will enjoy One For Sorrow as well.
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