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Friday, November 23, 2012

Teen Angst

It's tough to be a teen, as evidenced from the above photo, taken by E.A. Autrey in the 1960s, of me during my angst driven years.  Fortunately my circumstances were such (strong family support system, educated, creative parents with meaningful lives, a lot of good luck), I eventually got over my youthful anxieties.  Not so poor Krystal Weedon in J.K. Rowling's excellent book The Casual Vacancy.  Rowling paints a bleak picture that sucks you in then throws you out feeling faintly sick at heart.  The only decent character in her book dies on page 5.  Most of the adults are seriously flawed and the teens Krystal, Andrew, Stuart and Sukhvinder bear the brunt of the deficiencies of their parents.  But, as is the case in real life, the worst fate happens to those from the wrong side of the tracks.  The Casual Vacancy reminds me of another brilliantly written and tragic book by Elizabeth George, the 2006 novel What Came Before He Shot Her.  In that case it's a pre-teen boy from the wrong neighborhood whose life goes off the rails.  For anyone looking for light entertainment, you won't find it here.  But for great writing, plotting, character development and a taste of the true tragedy of life, you can't find better than these two books.  Hopefully the fate of their characters is not yours!

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