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jenn

Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

Playing Beatie Bow

Playing Beatie Bow - Ruth Park

An Australian YA book from the 80's, this was a RL book club read.  Though not science-fiction so much as historical time-travel, the book feels akin to the Australian equivalent of A Wrinkle in Time.

 

Abigail is an unhappy 14 year old, bitter and bratty after her parents' separation.  She spends time with her next-door neighbour, Justine, helping her out by taking Justine's two kids to the playground, where the youngest, Natalie, likes to watch the other kids play a game called 'Beatie Bow'; a cross between Bloody Mary and tag.  Natalie and Abigail notice another child that only watches, the 'furry girl' that stands in the shadows.  One day, Abigail sees the girl and approaches her, then gives chase as the girl runs away.  As she runs down the street, she suddenly finds herself in 1873, stuck there until she helps the furry girl, who turns out to be Beatie Bow, and her family figure out how to save the family 'Gift'.  

 

More than a few of my friends here consider this a beloved classic, so imagine my chagrin when I showed up to book club and had to admit I didn't like it.  Fortunately, I wasn't alone.  The book has a lot going for it: the writing is beautiful, the setting evocative; Park puts you in Sydney in 1873, and let me tell you, it's filthy.  Park won the Australian Book of the Year Award in 1981 and it was well deserved.  

 

But...I don't like time travel books, I'm not a fan of the dark edge so prevalent in even Australian YA, and most unfortunate of all, I didn't like a single character in this book.  Abigail was a spoiled, whiney, brat; Beattie Bow was too ornery to be considered charming and the rest didn't get enough page time to be anything other that friendly shadows.  Abigail's first love was just too trite; I couldn't buy it, it was all too neat and pat (although to be fair, I might have totally bought it when I was 12). 

 

The book is a worthy read, I just wasn't the right audience for it.