Welcome to ‘Fine Lines’, the Friday feature in which we give a sentimental, sometimes-critical, far more wrinkled look at the children’s and YA books we loved in our youth. This week, writer/reviewer/blogger Lizzie Skurnick rereads ‘My Sweet Audrina’, V.C. Andrews’ X-rated, 1982 gothic horror novel in which Audrina Adare, an innocent, is Desperately Seeking Sister.My Sweet Audrina : The Book Of Sister And Forgetting
After reading this I can only say, my goodness was I an innocent. My dirty reading as a teen? Believe it or not, Henry Fielding, D.H. Lawrence when younger and Mary McCarthy, Erica Jong, and a few others when older.
There was a girl at the bus stop. She looked about Jake’s age, or maybe a bit older. He didn’t usually notice girls much, except to make a mental note to avoid them. That was because he found they generally acted superior, which unsettled him. But he noticed this one because she was so thin. Not under-nourished thin. More greyhound thin. Her long, wispy hair was pale brown or dark blonde, no color really; that made her even more greyhoundish.
She had two of those very green shopping bags, the ones that last forever, one dragging her right arm down and one on the ground, between her feet. Two younger children who were playing on the pavement behind seemed to be vaguely attached to her. They never looked at her, nor she at them; nor did they speak to each other. But somehow Jake knew they were together. Something invisible linked them.
Irish writer Siobhan Parkinson’s Something Invisible is a book that seems far too invisible itself here in the United States. That is, it seems to have slipped under too many people’s radars and it shouldn’t have. It is a quiet, elegant, and beautifully written book about friendship, growing-up, and grief. Parkinson has a wry and witty style that makes this book both funny and moving all at once. It is the story of eleven-year-old Jake, and how he comes to terms with his own family when tragedy strikes someone else’s; it is very compelling reading. We honored this book, Parkinson’s first one to be published in the United States (although she is a very established and award-winning writer in Ireland), as a 2007 Notable Children’s Book in the Language Arts and it got many enthusiastic reviews including a starred one from Publishers Weekly. Happily two more of her books are now available here: Second Fiddle and Blue Like Monday.