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  • April 2011
    M T W T F S S
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This Book Wrecked Me. But I Loved It.

Call me a weirdo if you want, but  I can’t get enough of books in which everyone is miserable and angsty.    So when I picked up this book:

I thought I could handle it. The cover should have been my first hint.  The creepy, visceral human heart is a warning.  It is screaming: “the raw pain of this book will make it too bleak to read!  Run away!”  After 50 pages of outright misery, I took to Good Reads to check out the reviews.   I am just over-sensitive lately, or are others finding this book difficult?  I was oddly relieved to learn that many readers had trouble finishing this book.   Now, it was a challenge.  I had to finish it!

Because in addition to often being downright miserable, The Freak Observer is also bizarre, hilarious and quite endearing.*   Those are the traits of the book that allowed me to stick with it to the end.

The Freak Observer is named after a concept in theoretical physics.   Freak observers are quite literally brains floating in the universe:  “it just pops into existence because it is hard for nature to make a whole universe.  It is easier to create bits and pieces – a boot, a planet, a naked brain floating around in nothingness.  It’s just there, and it is conscious, so it observes and it remembers and it tries so hard to understand” (pg 46).

Clearly, Loa, the main character, sees herself as a freak observer, attempting to separate from the chaotic universe, observing and trying to understand, but remaining  alone.   She loves physics and escapes into it often.  Loa  is a tough, bright, and sarcastically funny high school student whose life has become a mess of death, grief, shock,  and post-traumatic stress disorder.

On the very first page we learn that a friend of Loa has just died in a most horrific way, and Loa witnessed the accident.   Not only did Loa see Ester die, she also saw what a person’s body looks like after being mangled by a log barreling off of a truck at 70 miles per hour.   Loa has no idea why her friend went racing toward the highway.  Did she see the truck coming?    Did she mean to do it?

Ester’s death came on the heels of multiple tragedies.  Loa and her family were already grieving another loss.  How can she make sense of the chaos and move forward?

Don’t give up on this book.  The main character is so likable that you’ll want to root for her the whole way through.  And you’ll find glimmers of hope if you stick it out.

*As Karen mentioned previously, The Freak Observer  won the Morris Award, which was created to honor a first-time YA author.



One Response

  1. I think its interesting that people gravitate toward characters that are in so much pain and misery. It makes me want to study pchycology to fully understand the appeal. This review is very well done and makes me want to read the book to try and understand this character from my own perspective.

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