Saturday, November 6, 2010

31. "Pepperland" by Mark Delaney

Delaney, Mark. Pepperland. Atlanta: Peachtree, 2004.
181 pages
Reviewed by J. d’Artagnan Love

Pepperland is about Star, as she calls herself, and her journey to healing from her mother’s death. Star and her mom were especially fond of the Beatles and John Lennon. Each chapter title is also the title of a Beatles song which was a creative move by Delaney. Star finds a letter that her mom wrote to John Lennon when she was a teenager and it becomes Star’s mission to deliver the letter to John Lennon herself when he performs in her hometown.

I had hesitations going into this novel but once I started, I couldn’t put it down. The characters are painted so delicately and accurately I felt like I knew them like I know one of my friends. I was hesitant because I often find that stories about healing end up being unrealistic and impossibly linear. I was very impressed with this text’s ability to realistically illustrate the way a young woman might go through the grieving process. Her process wasn’t linear, it was messy, and moving, and beautiful.

Delaney is very good at tackling complex ideas and translating it into something young adults can understand and access. For example, when approaching the idea of art as a healing tool, Delaney writes, “Every intuition tells me that great art, like Dooley’s has to peel away the outer layers, because it’s the only way to get to the places where we’re all the same” (Delaney 49). Here we have a complex idea laid out clearly for the reader.

This novel is an example excellent writing within a genre.

5 darts out of 5

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