*** About the Book ***
At the start of the story Finny is an opinionated and slightly odd 14 year old girl who feels like she doesn't belong in her own family. A chance meeting with an unusual boy named Earl starts her down the road to romance, but when her parents find out about her relationship they send her off to boarding school. There she meets Judith, her gorgeous and intimidating roomate, and Poplan, the caretaker of the girls at the school and a quite unusual person.
These people - Finny's family, Earl, Judith, and Poplan - plus a few others form the cast of Finny's life for the next twenty years. Through good times and bad times, Finny grows up with this oddball group of people and they influence her for better and for worse. Who will Finny turn out to be in the end?
*** Why I Read It ***
The author emailed me to see if my book club would be interested in reading his book and having him visit our meeting. After meeting him myself in New York at the Book Blogger Convention, I asked my club to vote on it. The majority were interested in reading it and meeting Justin, so we chose this as our August book. I'll be recapping that meeting in just a few days.
*** My Thoughts ***
Let me tell you what this book is NOT. It is not a coming-of-age story ... not exactly. It is not a Young Adult (YA) book ... too many "unusual" sexual situations to be appropriate for that audience. It is not a re-imagining of David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens ... though there is a lot of that in there.
As for what it IS ... well ... it is an unusual story of a not-always-likable girl and how she changes (or doesn't) over twenty years. It is full of over-the-top characters with strange habits or personalities. It is a story filled with both humor and sadness.
The two things I enjoyed most about this book are the crazy characters and the glimpses of "truth" that sometimes appeared. The characters remind me very much of those in Charles Dickens, with habits or personalities that can make you laugh, cringe, or think "Say what?!" For me that was the biggest strength of the book and I loved many of the characters. Then there were the times when a character would say or do something and I'd think "Yes, that is SO TRUE, that's exactly how real life is." I loved that about the book as well.
On the other hand, I didn't really feel that connected to Finny or invested in how her story would end. I don't usually read books like this (not that any book is really "like" this one - it's someone in a class of it's own) because I don't feel like I get anything of lasting value from them. For the most part I enjoyed reading this book, but I'm finding that I'm happier with my book choices when I don't stray from my tried-and-true favorite genres.
*** Author Events ***
If you are in the greater PA/MD/DC/NYC, Justin may be available to visit your book club. You can contact him through his website if you are interested. And if you'd like to meet him, he'll be reading from FINNY at the Baltimore Book Festival on 9/25 and possibly dropping in for my panels on 9/26.
*** Your Thoughts ***
Have you read FINNY? Heard of it? What did you think? I've you've read it, how would you describe it?