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Book description

Dahlia is a 29 year old, profane, pot smoking, leach who lives off her father; perennially consoling him with promises of graduate school. Truthfully, Dahlia doesnt have much interest in anything outside her Venice, California home. When a grand mal seizure brings a large and malignant brain tumor to the forefront of her consciousness, Dahlia must undergo a series of painful treatments and fight to survive. But the truth is, she isnt sure that she wants to fight or survive. Characteristically, Dahlia lets her parents do all the work- her father taking notes, fighting, being optimistic; her mother grieving loud enough for the both of them. Is this girl lazy or what?Throughout the book we learn more about Dahlias life and history. Her troubled childhood- abandonment by her mother and brother, her fathers inability to cope- they all created the malignant anger inside her as sure as her body generated that ravenous brain tumor. We learn her laziness is born out of witnessing the uselessness of action (exhibit a. Rabbi Dan, the jerky brother).Albert was so successful in presenting Dahlias character flaws as a function of past abuse, that by the end of the book I was rooting for her. I wanted Dahlia to live, reconcile with her brother, go to graduate school, find a nice boy, get married, have kids.So, if you can get through wanting to kill off Dahlia yourself in the first few chapters, its quite a rewarding read. There is character development, of sorts. A revelation or two, though perhaps it comes to us, the readers, rather than Dahlia herself.With The Book of Dahlia, Albert asks if some pretty big questions: If we say that people who survive cancer do so through sheer force of will, does that mean people who waste, succumb and ultimately die didnt really want to live bad enough? Does it mean that they just didnt have the drive, a positive enough attitude? And what if the latest victim hasnt led a full life, was wasted the years allotted to them. Should we care? Should we mourn? Does it matter?Dahlia often thinks about Julia G., a classmate who died in high school. Is it a crime, she wonders, that she lived longer and wasted it? Well, is it? Read the book and decide for yourself.Alberts method of narration is a bit unusual. She needs to use Dahlias voice to tell the story. Dahlias speech patterns (think profanity) and love of pop culture are an integral part of her characterization, so the narrator must be Dahlia. But, using 1st person would greatly limit the story here as all parts the where Dahlia was unconscious would have to be told second hand. This would reduce the immediacy of the story. No author wants that. So, Elisa Albert has Dahlia tell the story in third person. Reading this book, I was left with the impression that I was talking to someone at a bar. The conversation was urgent, unorganized and sprinkled (well awash, really) in profanity. I could almost imagine Dahlia French inhaling across from me, pausing occasionally for another drink.However, because Dahlia is the narrator (at least, this is what I felt when reading the book) were left to question the authenticity of the narrative. Was Dahlias mother _really_ that indifferent? Was her brother _really_ that callous? We could take the novel at face value, but we dont have to. The Book of Dahlia can be read on as many levels as whorls in its namesake flower; ever opening to new levels of complexity. Good stuff.

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نوشته شده در : جمعه 24 شهریور 1396  توسط : Sue Whisler.    نظرات() .

 
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