Sunday, December 23, 2007

Book #49: Rainlight by Alison McGhee

Alison McGhee may very well be my favorite author of the year. Hers is a style I would love to emulate, both in terms of idea and of style. Rainlight is a young adult novel told from four points of view (with a brief fifth for a few moments toward the end, the most moving point of view in the entire story). Following a tragedy, four people who are all closely related (in some cases closer than they think) all work together to help lessen the loss. Mallie is nine but extremely mature for her age, and she was, for me, the most compelling character. Her grandfather, Tim, was the other major character for me.

The novel promises that secrets will be revealed and they are, but not in any of those huge in-your-face unbelievable moments that writers can sometimes rely on. The secrets are not what's ultimately most important--McGhee keeps the focus on the characters and their lives.
Like All Rivers Flow to the Sea, McGhee's style in Rainlight was more poetic than I'm used to in fiction--particularly young adult fiction--to the point that I'm going to need to read this book again because at some points I was so caught up in the beauty of the language that the plot started to slip for me. Some of the characters and their relationships blended for me; I blame that not on lazy writing but on lazy reading.

The greatest thing about Alison McGhee is that she's in Minnesota, and is hugely active at the Loft. I'm planning to take a workshop with her in the spring on the chronology of fiction, something she's extremely artful at. Can't wait!

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