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Marilee J. Layman

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09:10 pm: The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman
I put myself on the hold queueueue for this at the library because the WashPost blurb seemed stfnal. It's YA, but it's not really stfnal.

This is the story of Honor and it's in four parts (I read a part a night). The first part has her and her family coming into a new place where things are very different. The second part has her trying to conform to the other little girls. The third part has her trying to fix a mistake she made while conforming that damaged her parents. The fourth part has her searching for her parents.

This is a pretty common story and could be told in all sorts of settings, but this setting is a polemic on fascism. Goodman pulls from 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 for this -- there are very strict rules and people who don't obey them are disappeared. The old people damaged the air and water and then the Flood came and it was Earth Mother (pictures show her with a white bun, glasses on a chain, and a sweater over her shoulders) and her Corporation that fixed everything. But they also now run everything. They tell lies and control people with medication given in their water and food. Stories and songs are changed to honor Earth Mother. Honor's parents are Objectors and that's why they Disappeared.

This is clearly a story to show kids that they should be working toward individual freedom and not be captured by governmental rules. I thought she shoved Honor's story into her rigid controlled example and didn't really give us much depth. There's a lot of infodump and not a lot of truly combined story. I'd say Little Brother was a much better example of this because it concentrated on the kids rather than the controlling society. Goodman might have done better by just writing an essay. It ends at a point that allows for a sequel.

I can't recommend it because it's not melded well enough, and too many ideas are cribbed from stories we already know. Read 1984, read Brave New World, read Fahrenheit 451, read Little Brother. You'll get a better story and a better feel of the oppressive world, too.

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