Monday, May 2, 2016

Chime

Billinglsey, Franny.  Chime.  NY: Penguin Speak, c2011 361 pages
National Book Award Finalist

Moving, creepy, and intense are words used to describe this book.  I found it to be a layered book, each layer being removed, though not necessarily in order. Briony Larkin uses the same technique as “The House That Jack Built”, as she finds meaning by writing things down, each sentence repeating the ones before and adding something new until she reaches a conclusion.
Her conclusion has long been that she is a witch, she has done evil things (bringing the wave upon her stepmother, causing Rose to fall out of the swing and become damaged).  Whenever something nice appears to be happening, Briony reminds herself that she is not normal and she has done evil things. 

The book takes place in England, near a place called Swampsea, on the coast, somewhere around the turn of the century.  Parts of it are earthy, mystical, and hard to determine if they are real or metaphors for real events.  For example Boggy Mun, the watery Old One who can rise out of the sea in a wave that can destroy and harm.

Along with the unveiling of Briony’s secrets and the evil she thinks she has done, the story makes us think about guilt, forgiveness, jealousy, self-doubt, mercy and love.  While it took a while for me to get into the story, I really liked it later on and liked the ending, which while maybe to pat for some, suited me fine.  “How can something as fragile as a word, build a whole world?”

Recommended for junior high and above.  Review by Mrs. Belknap

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