Title: A Child's Book of True Crime
Author: Chloe Hooper
Genre: General fiction, mystery
One-sentence summary: An elementary school teacher is having an affair with the father of one of her students, whose wife has just completed a true-crime novel about a young girl who was murdered after she had an affair with a married man. As the narrator begins to fancy more and more similarities between her life and that of the murdered girl, she becomes obsessed with the past murder, and writes her varying theories on the murder into a dark, fanciful children's book populated by talking animals.
Why did you get this book? I found it at a used book sale in New York. I'd heard good things about it, and it's cover-blurbed by Jennifer Egan, whom I like.
Do you like the cover? It's all right, but it kind of drives me crazy because near the bottom there's this tiny little square that I think is supposed to be the cover of the narrator's children's book, and then on the spine there's this random stripe that is patterned with the very edge of that picture. It's hard to explain, but it's really weird.
Did you enjoy the book? Meeeeeh. You know, I feel like I should have... and I sort of did... but I mostly didn't. It was well-written, and there are certain aspects that are great. The book is full of insightful/witty asides, and the chapters from the "child's book of true crime" are good, and there's a wonderful running theme where the narration is interspersed with bits of classroom dialogue. The voices of the elementary school children are very real, very well done. But the overall theme... you know... I don't know, the plot as a whole struck me as a low-rent version of Suzanne Moore's In the Cut, and I didn't like In the Cut. Blah blah blah, sexual obsession with danger, blah blah blah spiraling out of control, blah blah inevitable climax blah. Sorry. It just doesn't really do much for me.
Was the author new to you and would you read something by this author again? Yes, and I'm not really sure. I think the book was a bit disorganized for me, and I know that was the point, but meh.
Are you keeping it or passing it on? Keeping.
Anything else? There are wombats in this book.
Scale of 1 to 10: 7
Number of pages: 230
Total pages for the year: 9644