March 06, 2011

Book Review: Listen

First of all, I apologize for the hiatus.  I was battling the Mutant Death Crud for about a week and then just never found the time to write.  I also read a lot, and one novel has moved me to share.  If you have a nook, perhaps you downloaded the Free Friday book a few weeks ago?  If not, it is currently at $9.

Listen by Rene Gutteridge

In Listen, Rene addresses the power of the spoken word.  In this case, words not intended to be heard by the subject.  The story takes place in a small town full of seemingly normal people.  Then a website appears with transcripts of private conversations, turmoil ensues.  Turmoil that crosses generations and eventually ends in death.

I started reading the book and found it very entertaining with the aura of mystery surrounding the identity of the website creator.  I just finished it Sunday morning and I was surprised at how incredibly moved I felt at the end.  I am reminded of the pain I was put through by my classmates between 6th and 12th grade.  At first I was a brain, then later a freak as I tried to figure out who I was in the sea of conformity or social death that is high school.  In my struggle to identify myself as me, the only fact I had to work with was that I knew I wasn't everyone else.

As it was the 90's, I got caught up in the "grunge" or "alternative" scene.  I wore baggy pants and flannel shirts from thrift stores the hung awkwardly on my painfully thin frame.  I finally grew tired of it and stopped dressing like an old, color-blind man, but not until after I had been identified as "the biggest pothead in the school."  Which was intriguing because I had never done drugs.  I'm pretty sure it was also said I was anorexic, which was also not true.  I was only blessed with an extremely good metabolism, which has now, sadly, gone the way of the old-man pants.  At times I was also apparently a slut, but isn't that what most gossips will eventually resort to when the target is a female?

The struggles of Jenna, one of the main character's teenage daughter, make my heart ache for what Sweet P will have to endure throughout her life.  Paradoxically, Doug was the taunter rather than the tanted in school.  I can only hope that between the two of us and our different experiences we will have the strength and knowledge to get her through it relatively unscathed.

To be honest, I am guilty of many conversations that I would be mortified to have exposed.  It won't be easy, but I hope to learn to consider what I say, even if the subject isn't present.


" much as I hated it at first, I actually think it has done some good.  I hear it in the break room.  People are starting to talk about the power of words.  People are listening more than they're talking...Life and death are in the power of the tongue, if you give the tongue all of the power, I guess."

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