Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Review: The Beginners by Rebecca Wolff

Title - The Beginners
Author - Rebecca Wolff
Publisher - Riverhead Books
Date published - 2011
# of pages - 304

My rating: 2.5/5


Theo and Raquel Motherwell are the only newcomers to the sleepy town of Wick in fifteen-year-old Ginger Pritt's memory. Hampered by a lingering innocence while her best friend, Cherry, grows more and more embroiled with boys, Ginger is instantly attracted to the worldliness and sophistication of this dashing couple.

But the Motherwells may be more than they seem. As Ginger's keen imagination takes up the seductive mystery of their past, she also draws closer to her town's darker history-back to the days of the Salem witch trials-and every new bit of information she thinks she understands leads only to more questions. Who-or what-exactly, are the Motherwells? And what is it they want with her?

Both a lyrical coming-of-age story and a spine-tingling tale of ghostly menace, The Beginners introduces Rebecca Wolff as an exciting new talent in fiction.

My Thoughts:
Rebecca Wolff's debut novel The Beginners is a contradiction. Why? Because I liked this book. Also, I didn't like it. In fact there were parts of this novel I outright detested. Yet, I couldn't hate it.

As a coming of age novel, this story works. Ginger is really out of her element with the eclectic Motherwells, Rachel and Theo. She wants to understand their world and be part of it. You can just feel how much she craves to have the freedom of an adult and she ends up going to the extreme by letting them take advantage of her. She lets Raquel babbel on about the intricacies of her life and how free she wants everyone to be with sex. She lets Theo take advantage of her body. And no matter how many times they lie to her and take her where she shouldn't go, she let's them. The experience is mesmerizing and at the same time jolting. It is a very rich coming of age story that I enjoyed reading.

As a thriller and historical run through Salem and the witch trials, I felt the novel did very poorly. There is too much aluded to and not enough explanation of what is going on. The descriptions of Gingers visions and dreams are certainly creepy but there is not enough context to go behind them to make the experiences thrilling for me.

Lastly, I feel that although the rich vocabulary and prose of this novel feels very sophisticated, as an average reader it really left me hanging in places. I am not going to read with a dictionary in one hand and the book in another. I wish the author had dumbed down the language just a bit. I may have gotten more out of it. As well, I feel like she really needed to tone down the sex scenes. They felt vulgar instead of literary. I wouldn't want to get rid of either of these elements as they did add to the story quite a bit. I just felt that they needed a lot more editing.

Overall, an interesting read. I'm just not entirely sure who to recommend it to.

Disclaimer: Requested book sent from the publisher.

You can purchase The Beginners from Amazon in hardcover, paperback, and kindle versions as well as from other retailers.

Go to The Beginners Goodreads page to check out more reviews or add it to your list.

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