Friday, 20 February 2009

Interesting Fiction

Finished February 20
Lark & Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips
This novel takes us back and forth between Corporal Robert Leavitt in Korea in July 1950 and the town of Winfield, West Virginia in July 1959.
In West Virginia Lark, 17, and her brother Termite, 9, live with their aunt Noreen (Nonie). Termite is Leavitt's son, born hydrocephalic and unable to walk or talk. In the West Virginia portion of the story, we see things from the points of view of Lark, Nonie, and Termite. We see the children's mother Lola from many viewpoints, including Nonie's and Leavitt's, that let us understand her motivations and actions. Termite and Lark are very close and Termite communicates with sounds, sometimes parroting those around him, and very much in tune with the sounds of his environment, reacting to things before those around him hear them.
Leavitt is caught up in an action in South Korea involving refugees. Leavitt, injured, has taken shelter in a tunnel with many of the surviving refugees and is unable to contact the rest of the men in his unit.
Back in West Virginia, Lark and Termite like to watch the world from a tunnel near them. It took me a while to get drawn into this but once I was it fully engaged me. The characters are what drives this book for me. Although there are certainly major events that take place in both settings that change the course of lives and matter deeply, the characters are what makes this book come alive.

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