Saturday, November 28, 2009

Suzanne Crowlwy. THE VERY ORDERED EXISTENCE OF MERILEE MARVELOUS


The best way to begin this review is a quote from Merilee:

One thing’s for sure in Jumbo, Texas, population 1,258: if you are dumb as an old shoe or super, super smart, you get driven up to El Paso to see a specialist who can confirm what everyone already knows. I’ve been taken there twice, once because I’m smart and once because I’m dumb. After only a few years of life in Jumbo, I’ve come to a conclusion. There’s a thin line between genius and bottom-barrel stupidness. I hover delicately on a tightrope between the two, wondering where I’ll land if I ever fall.

People think Merilee is missing a marble or two – that there isn’t much in her heard. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Merilee has a lot going on in her head, but she has trouble articulating it out loud. She’s fascinated by dragons so much that people call her the dragon girl. She writes in her journal all the interesting things going on around her. She also has a very scheduled, very ordered existence. She calls it her VOE. It’s not mentioned outright in the novel, but she has Asperger’s, which explains her need for order. It also explains how she has no close friends, but is totally okay with that. She likes her life the way it is.

Then two people enter her life and shake things up. The first one is a new kid named Biswick. He likes Merilee a lot and begins following her around asking her lots of questions. Biswick’s father is a drunk poet who doesn’t pay much attention to Biswick, except for being mean to him. The second one is a lady named Veraleen, who came back to town after being gone a while. She takes care of Biswick and helps Merilee too. Despite her desire to keep her life exactly the way it is, Merilee begins to see how friendship may not be so bad after all.

There is so much more going on in this story- much more than I can succinctly describe here. I love the setting (I’m a sucker for my home state, as you know). I love the way the Marfa Lights were incorporated. I love the authentic and full of life, quirky characters. It’s a rich, beautiful novel that I’m glad to have spent time with. Suzanne Crowley is a gifted storyteller, for sure!

Check out her website here. I can't wait to read her latest book. Doesn't it look intriguing!