An ode to books but it is also so much more. Among Others by Jo Walton is a story that connects to all who love books but has even more of an appeal for those who submerge themselves in Science Fiction and Fantasy. That may make it sound like it is a nerdy book but it is also poignant in its exploration of grief and managing beyond loss, that too by a fifteen year old girl.
Set in the late 1970’s, the story is about a girl who, though brought up by her mother’s family in Wales is sent to a boarding school in England by her father after her twin sister dies. Written in the first person, Morwenna’s attempts to live a life after what she thinks is the end of the story, sort of like after Frodo has come back to the Shire at the end of Lord of the Rights. Her search for continuation through books is something many readers would identify with at some time or the other.
PS: Morwenna’s matter of fact acceptance of the existence of magic in the world juxtaposed with the science fiction that she reads is an interesting combination. And I really liked the way she connects everything back to the books she has read. The fairy/elves she see around her makes her certain that Tolkien too must have experienced them.
LL: She thinks even Shakespeare must have been able to see them in order to have written A Midsummer Night’s Dream. But I like the way after watching the Tempest she is convinced that if Prospero had not destroyed his books and stuff when returning to civilization, he would have turned into Saruman.
PS: That’s just it, the connecting of Shakespeare to Tolkien and many other similar cross references is reassuring for other readers whose thought processes are not limited to the physical world around them.
LL: The importance of books, reading and learning is celebrated through the eyes of a girl who discovers the possibilities of interlibrary loans for the first time in her life.
PS: The book is also a celebration of libraries and librarians. Morwenna a lonely outsider in her school spending time with books is befriended by two librarians. And though this association joins the science fiction book club at the local library and finds others like her who think that people’s opinion of Heinlein is more a matter of concern than their misdeeds.
LL: It is also a book about power and the responsible use of it. Morwenna’s mother after all is like the ultimate wicked witch and Morwenna herself uses power occasionally but is always concerned about the unintentional effect it might have on those around her.
PS: A book for all readers to read. But we probably felt such an affinity with it because the ideas in the book so neatly cover the words present in our Tags list for this Blog!