Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Book Review: Lizard Love by Wendy Townsend

Grace's life is perfect in Mooresville. Nature is close at hand, and Grace can explore endlessly, observing all manner of wild things. But Grace and her mother move to New York City, where as far as Grace can see, everything natural is either dying or has already died, been buried, and paved over. She hates the city until she discovered Fang & Claw, a pet shop run by a toad-ugly boy named Walter and his father, and meets Spot, an iguana. Fang & Claw becomes her haven from school, where she doesn't fit in, and from the city streets, where men and boys are starting to notice her and treat her in ways she finds disgusting. Even when Grace goes back to Mooresville for a summer break, things aren't the same. So there is nothing to be done except return to the city and confront who she is, what she is becoming, and deal with it.

The first thing I want to say is that I absolutely love the cover of this book. I know it's not something I usually discuss, but it's just so amazing - I love the color scheme and the way the silhouette is arranged over the picture of the iguana. Even the placement and font of the title is awesome. The cover is fantastic , and a great fit for the book.

Onto the rest of the story. I liked the plot; it was a pretty typical story about a young girl finding her place, but it had plenty of original elements to make it interesting, and I enjoyed reading it - I never felt like it was too cliche. When I first started reading, I expected Grace to be older, and was surprised to find out that for the main part of the book, she's around the age of 13-14. At first I was skeptical, sure that the book wouldn't be as good without an older narrator, and although I still personally might have preferred that, Grace's age works. Given the themes of the story, it made sense.

The supporting characters, such as Walter, Grace's grandparents, and her friend Cathy, weren't described in as much detail as Grace herself, but I was still able to get a good sense of them from reading the book. Some characters definitely had some stereotypical characteristics, but they were slight, and didn't make me dislike them. The relationships between Grace and the supporting characters felt very natural - it never seemed forced.

Another thing I really liked about the characters is that none of them were made out to be an antagonist. There were boys in school who were rude, but we never really found out who they were; Cathy had different views from Grace and could be pushy but was never cruel; Grace's mom understood Grace's unhappiness with the move and tried to help her deal with it; and Grace's grandparents made decisions that Grace didn't like, but they did what they thought was best. Grace's struggle wasn't against other people, but simply to find where she belonged.

The writing was good, though I felt some points were too exaggerated, such as Grace's dislike of Cathy's dog, her hatred of the city, or the changes she realized were happening in Mooresville. The author didn't exactly tell the reader exactly what was going on, but it was pretty obvious - I felt that the book could have benefited from a little more subtlety. Other than that, I liked the descriptions, and I could understand and relate to Grace and Walter's love of the lizards, even though I've never felt that way myself. Making the characters relatable and conveying their feelings and emotions was definitely one of the strong points of the book, and what made it, apart from a few flaws, an enjoyable read.


1 comment:

  1. I'm with you. The cover is fantastic. Imagine rows of it on a bookend. Talk about cover pop.

    Enjoyed reading your review. It does sound like an interesting story. Your point about there not being a defined antagonist is interesting, too.