Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Review: Lark by Tracey Porter

This book is like a painted Easter egg; it's delicate, fragile, sometimes gorgeous, and/or a bit tacky depending on one's perspective of painted eggs.
The premise is similar to Sebold's "The Lovely Bones", although personally I never connected with that book and felt it lacked a certain something...a sprinkle of salt, glitter, and mozzarella cheese...what have you. The smells of home and of fresh bread baking in the oven. The rubber soles of boots. Grandpa's pipe.
I never felt firm in my conviction towards that book, and I don't with "Lark", either. There were foundation problems.
"Lark" is a quick read and suffers from the same ailments as Sebold's earlier work. While the writing and plot line appear fresh, the stories lacked a certain credibility and spirit that my yoga-minded, vegetarian omelet eating self couldn't quite connect with.
"Lark" is the story of a 16 year-old young woman who is taken against her will by a man who rapes and leaves her to die in the woods during the first big snowstorm of the year. The narrative of this book is told in three voices: Larks’, her no longer best friend Eve, and a young lady named Nyetta whom Lark used to baby-sit.
Eve struggles with Lark's death and the dark secret she was withholding from her which caused the demise of their friendship, while Nyetta believes Lark is trapped within the tree she was found under and claims to see Lark regularly. Enough so even, that Nyetta's parents finally find her an understanding therapist (enter April...the hippie therapist...anyone else sick of these people invading our fiction?) where she attempts to deal with Lark's horrible death and get our little Nyetta on the right track.
And if you lost me when I noted that Nyetta believes Lark's spirit is stuck within a tree, than most likely you are amongst the many readers who started this book and thought "What??!! Where did THAT come from??" As the whole concept is not clearly explained; nor does it really add any substance to the book. I'm just going to assume this particular author likes trees. Seems to be the sanest explanation.
The characters are not well drawn, the plot is shaky, and for the hugeness of the subject matter--(murder, death, rape, general drudgery), the novel is really too short.
So why 3 stars? Because it's fragile; like a baby bird waiting to spread its wings for the first time, or that moment when Michael Jackson held his baby over a balcony in Europe (gasp). With the right care and editing, this novella (?) could have been grand. And like that little chirping bird, the author shows promise and has a lyrical ability that not only made it palpable to read, but rather charming as well.

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