The cover and length of Funny How Things Change pulled me right on over to it. Nice, short book and look at the cover. It looks so bleak. It looks so real. Especially the girl there. Doesn't she look so, I don't know...doesn't she look like people you have seen before? The cover haunts me. It is so depressing.
And the book is pretty depressing, too. Even the parts that aren't supposed to be depressing are depressing.
It is set in Dwyer, WV which I guess is fictional, I can't find it on google so it must be. When I read about Dwyer though it reminds me of Webster Springs, WV. I spent thirty-seven years in Webster Springs one week back in the 90s. It truly was one of the worst experiences in my life. I think the worst part was the "Triple K Saloon". Not even kidding. Nice, huh? Anyway, once I got over the trauma from remembering my years in Webster Springs I started to settle in to the book.
Some of my favorite books are set in urban settings. I definitely learn more toward city life than country life...though, I am quite, boringly content in the suburbs, it is true, but if I got to pick between country or city, city it is. Walter Dean Myers, Sharon Flake, Sharon Draper are some of my most favorite authors, the kind of author that I love every book that I read. Spenser, Matt Scudder, I love those city boys. So it was kind of hard to get into at first just because it was so different.
Remy and his girl Lisa have just graduated from high school in the teeny tiny town of Dwyer, WV where everyone knows everyone. Lisa is headed off to college in the fall and she wants Remy to go with her. Remy believes he loves Lisa and he can't imagine his life without her, but Remy really loves his town, especially the mountain he lives on with his dad, the mountain named after his family, Walker Mountain. His family goes back more than 150 years or something on that mountain.
The other thing that adds to Remy's "should I stay or should I go" conflict is Dana. Dana is a college kid who has been hired through a grant from the state to paint the water towers around the county. Dana is the first girl that makes Remy think twice, maybe, about Lisa, and think harder about Dwyer and the mountain.
It was interesting to read a rural coming of age story, so different from all the urban or suburban COASes that I've read in the past. But in this case, different was good.
It was very realistic, except I wasn't feeling Remy's love for Lisa. I mean he was always saying how much he loved her and how much he was willing to give up for her, but then he would forget to call her or just decide not to see her and it didn't seem like he could really talk to her at all, or that he even wanted to talk at all! It seemed to me like we meet Lisa and Remy right at the end of their relationship anyway, so the struggle that Remy goes through seems a little unbelievable. Still I would recommend this book to folks who want a COAS from the rural side.
I also liked the message that said it is okay to be someone who stays. Like you don't have go out into the big other world if it isn't for you. But most of all, no matter what you do, stay or go, do it for the right reasons. I thought that was pretty cool.
One funny part was this artist lady who lived down in a little WV town because there were too many people in Pittsburgh! Dude! Now that is something to think about for sure! When people think Pittsburgh is too big...you know that you are a rural kinda person!
This book is worth reading for sure.
What's Going On Here?
There are SO MANY wonderful book review blogs out there and I can't compete with them, that is for sure. So this is not a book review blog. This is just a way for me to organize what I have read so that I can be better at matching the right book to the right person. The blog title comes from the brilliant mind of the most talented woman who ever lived, Ms. Judy Garland. The full quote is, "Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of someone else." That is what I hope to do here and in ever aspect of my life.