Posted in Reviews

DADBS: Chapter Five

We didn’t go to the grocery store.

Image result for really sherlock

Luke thought we should call the cops.

And you didn’t? Violet really is a terrible person. Violet casually disregards Sunshine’s well-being because she likes River. She’s willing to ignore Sunshine in favor of keeping her boy-toy out of trouble. She’s an asshole. No wonder she doesn’t have friends.

Misogynistic, “woman-hating”, boob-groping Luke wants to report the incident to the police. Despite the fact we’re told that he can never consider a girl his friend. Sounds to me like Luke is a much better friend than Violet.

Violet goes over to Sunshine’s house to have a conversation with her. Sunshine tells Violet that she and River had gone into the tunnel and that he grabbed her elbow. She thought he was going to kiss her, and instead she sees a man and child in the corner. They appeared half-blind and having “furry teeth, as if they’d been eating rats.”

That isn’t how eating works. I think the author meant to say that they had fur in-between their teeth, but it is never described that teeth. The teeth themselves are described as furry.

So Sunshine is still sick with fear over the incident. As she goes to throw up again, Violet calls Sunshine’s parents so they can come home and take care of her. That’s the only semi-compassionate thing that Violet does for Sunshine in the entire chapter.Our lovely protagonist, ladies and gentlemen.

Jump a little ahead in time and we meet Sam and Cassandra Black. And from the get-go it is cringey.

“Cassandra and Sam were nothing like their daughter. They were skinny. Skinny like gangly teenage boys, not skinny like older people who exercised or starved themselves.” 

Couldn’t the author have just said they were thin? Usually when people write this sort of thing they give a general description of the character. For example: He was a paunchy, middle-aged man with thinning brown hair. See? It gives you a general mental image of frame, age, and his hair color.

I think that the author was trying to avoid using a cliche line like “thin as a beanpole.” But she goes so out of her way trying to be original that she ends up being absurd. This isn’t the only case of this in the book. I’ll point it out when it comes up, but some of the descriptions and metaphors are so odd it actually pulls me out of the narration. I rock back slightly, make a face and go “What the hell?”

Panther hips for example. It’s just an odd mental image that it is very distracting.

My point here is the author could have compared Sunshine’s parents to anything, so why teenage boys and anorexics?

Yes, teenage boys can shoot up several feet during puberty, and it can make them awkward looking until they fill out. But that isn’t the case for all teenage boys. Why make your comparison something so inconstant?

And there’s the other comparison before. As I’ve mentioned in earlier reviews, I have struggled with an eating disorder for awhile now. There’s a lot of misinformation floating around about the illness. Particularly that it’s about weight and vanity. Rarely is the root cause of anorexia wanting to look good in a bikini. In almost all the cases I’ve seen, its an expression of a deep psychological problem. So comparing natural thinness to a severe mental problem ruffles me.

And the absurd comparisons don’t stop there.

Cassie put her hair back in a bun, like a ballet teacher. She wore thick round glasses like Aldous Huxley. 

This is another example of the Twilight theme that is strong in the story. The author and main character make references to classical literature all the time, even when it’s completely unnecessary. If it’s pertinent to the theme I have less a problem with it, but 99% of the time in these stories its not. It’s to show off how cultured our protagonist is.

And stuff like this line bugs the crap out of me. Not only is the author expecting her junior high/high school target audience to not only know who Aldous Huxley is, but also what he wrote and what sort of glasses he wore. 

The author could have easily looked up or made a stab at guessing what sort of glasses Huxley wore. According to a simple google search I did, trying to illustrate the point he wore tortoiseshell glasses. They looked like this:

Image result for tortoiseshell glasses

The author wants to get across that Sunshine’s dad looks scholarly. But it will confuse many readers who have not read Huxley. So far as I can tell he is not required reading in high school (feel free to correct me if you had to read him in high school, but I certainly didn’t, and its not on a lot of school’s lists for required reading.) Huxley’s Brave new World seems to be more of a college lit text if you ask me.

So basically, its kind of stupid to name drop him here, since it pulls attention away from the story, and most people aren’t going to know what the author is talking about.

So Violet tells Sunshine’s parents what happened and we get the real story of Blue Hoffman.

Hoffman was suffering from mental illness. He didn’t kidnap anyone. It was a big misunderstanding and the kids were apparently inspired by reading Tom Sawyer in elementary school. So they went off to live in the wilderness.

More name dropping literature. Should I start keeping a counter of that too? And this won’t be the last time that the author name drops Mark Twain’s work.

“They ran off into the woods and lived off berries and peanut butter sandwiches. Eight days later they showed up, hungry and dirty and surprised at all the fuss.”

Story time. Alright, my soon to be ex-brother in law was quite convinced he was a country boy, despite not having lived in a town less than 23,000, while my family had lived in many areas where animals outnumbered people, and the nearest neighbor was a mile or two away.

So he and his friends organized a camping trip. In the middle of September, just as the weather was beginning to turn. They were convinced they were going to fish and hunt and live off the land, and would return home victorious and well-fed.

Not the case. First of all, they’d picked terrible weather conditions in which to camp. The nights were bitterly cold. It is easy to forget how cold nights can be when you are usually ensconced in a house. It is also easy to forget how dark nights are away from city lights.

They ended up curled two in a sleeping bag, trying to keep warm. They hadn’t brought flashlights, and their phones died after they used the flashlight app for a couple of hours. Between them they caught three or four fish to feed five guys. The little fish were hardly satisfying for just one person to eat, let alone five. They returned home cold and tired and desperately wanting pizza.

That is why I call bullshit on the entire kids out in the wilderness story. Grown men with something to prove only stayed out for three days. Children accustomed to the care of their parents with no idea how to deal with the elements would probably have come home much sooner than eight days.

Putting aside that a lot of berries are poisonous and would have made the kids sick, they couldn’t have lived on just peanut butter sandwiches. Even if each kid took the peanut butter and whole loaf of bread from home, (alerting their parents to the fact that something was up) it wouldn’t have lasted a week or more. Most kids don’t have the kind of forethought it takes to survive more than few days away from home. I remember when I was a lot younger and tried to run away, I took only a soda and some crackers with me.

These kids should have been dirty, dehydrated and possibly sick when they returned home. After eating berries and possibly sating their thirst with unpurified water or saltwater from the sea they should have been very, very sick.

Violet argues that Sunshine must have seen something and Cassandra gives her a cucumber sandwich. Cassandra apparently grew up in England, so of course, we must rely heavily on our stereotypes here.

She grew up in England, and thought that cucumber sandwiches and tea solved problems, which they sort of did, sometimes. 

Sigh. You could have just typed “fish and chips and save the queen.” and it would have been just as nuanced an analysis of how her origin shapes her worldview.

Sunshine’s dad asks if River saw Blue, and Violet, like a dumbass forgot to ask. She begins to doubt Sunshine’s story, because she’s an awful person and River is of course the only thing that matters to Violet.

Sunshine’s dad tries to laugh it off. Cassandra doesn’t take it seriously either.

“We all see things sometimes. When I was your age I was so in love with Wuthering Heights I convinced myself that Heathcliff really existed. I still lived in Cambridge then. I took a bus stop to Yorkshire and set out to find him.I walked for twenty miles across the moors, following what I thought was Heathcliff’s shadow, stretching across the heather, calling me to him. I ended up in a pub hours later, tired, cold and embarrassed.” 

Sounds like a trek Bella Swan would undertake, if she wouldn’t fall on her face during it.

I think this is supposed to endear us to Cassandra, but it just makes me feel sorry for Sunshine.

Don’t get me wrong on this point. I’m a huge geek, I think escapist fantasy has its place. But I’ve always disliked the personality type who can’t distinguish between fiction and reality. Its good to develop attachments to characters. That’s the mark of good writing. But at the end of the day, they’re still just fictional characters. No matter if its a tv show or a book that sort of delusion isn’t cute or whimsical. It’s unhealthy. I’ve actually met girls like this and they bug the crap out of me.

Secondly, assuming she walks a thirty minute mile, which is about average, she couldn’t have walked twenty miles in one day. Thirdly, I’m sure the land belonged to someone. So wasn’t she trespassing?

So anyways, Sunshine is understandably pissed that no one takes her seriously. Violet leaves to talk to River. Because why the hell wouldn’t you leave  a traumatized friend to moon over a man you barely know? Makes perfect sense. Way to go Violet.

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