|But is self-sacrifice a sacred power?|
Berry is a former student of mine, from when I taught at the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College, and we've stayed in touch since she left Simmons to attend Vermont College's MFA in writing for Children and Young Adults Program. And her book has been receiving a lot of positive buzz from bloggers and reviewers. So I knew I would have to read it. Still, I put the copy I'd purchased aside for a few days, days which turned into several weeks, as I tried to overcome my trepidation. Finally, this weekend, I forced myself to crack open the book's spine.
And found myself captivated.
A subplot about a murder serves as the focus of much of the final section of the book, the subplot's resolution the book's climax. This subplot contains interesting themes for a feminist to consider: what constitutes healthy sexual curiosity vs. unhealthy prurience; the injustice of men who would restrain and deny women's sexual desires; the fears women have of being negatively judged by association with the shunned; the powers of both female rivalry and female friendship. But for me, the novel's climatic moment came mid-book, when Lucas asks Judith the one question she's been dreading. To give him the answer he so desperately wants would be to relive the anguish of the man she still so deeply loves. But it would be a sacrifice of herself bought at far too dear a price:
Lucas. At your bidding I'd have fallen at your feet. I'd have lied for you, I'd have lied to please you, if I had the words to do it.
But I can't answer you this. Not even for you. In time the truth would make you hate me, if you don't already. But more than that, against all reason, I hold myself too dear. (145)
Would that all young girls learn to hold themselves as dear. And find partners, as does Judith, who will love them because they do.
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