What are teens doing between #DistanceLearning and #shelteringinplace?
Some are struggling with online school and others are having a hard time finding motivation.
I’ve been there, back, and there again. Amidst the crazy of #shelteringinplace, I’ve been working on my novel (finally!), building a website for teens stuck in quarantine, and reading.
Here’s my review of Elana K. Arnold’s RED HOOD. You will notice it’s written in 2nd person. You’ll know why once you read the book…
From the moment you first open RED HOOD, Arnold’s world feels warm and comfortable. You feel warm and comfortable. And above all, safe.
warm and safe
If you’ve ever gone to a school dance, you know this scene like the back of your hand. The loud friend, the blaring music, the romance of a partner there with you. Almost instantly, the plot takes off. You read and see and feel the main character’s feelings. Bisou’s fear is evident on the page.
fear is evident
And when you keep turning the pages, earnestly, the scene gets darker and darker, until Bisou is running through the cold, dark, night. The plot winds and spins and spirals, some parts dark and twisted, others bright and clear. But more shadows start to appear, overwhelming the sun, creeping slowly, like thick, black, mud. There are long kept secrets that are kept coiled up tightly, each one harder to read than the last. Still, you find it harder and harder to look away, to slam the cover shut.
dark and twisted
shadows like thick, black mud
Wolves and men begin to flit through the artfully written pages, and the stuff of your nightmares starts to cackle and grin. You see Bisou find friends in the unlikeliest of places, and you see her struggle to trust them, not knowing what is happening to her. Her monthly need to go and fight and defend and kill. Men die. Hushed whisperings spread through the town. Tensions rise. A nosy reporter worsens things considerably.
long kept secrets
wolves and men
Bisou’s terror starts to increase, and you discover the horrors of involuntary celibates. Incels. Men who feel they deserve sexual relationships; that women are pieces of property. A team is formed. Bisou, Keisha, the reporter, and one other victim of the crimes of an incel, Maggie. Banded together by fear and desperation, a desperation for answers.
Eventually, Bisou’s grandmother answers your burning questions. The story you see, the one that Mémé tells, is not one you will forget for a long, long time. A cryptic note left by Mémé alarms the young team.
girls who’ve grown up too fast
unlikely to succeed
They are girls who’ve had to grow up too fast and are unlikely to succeed, unlikely to be a team at all. They fix what they can, ending the beginning of Bisou’s story. They close the door on Bisou’s dead father. They save Mémé, the girls united and strong, but human. Fighters, warriors, but just girls. Broken, bruised, beautiful.
broken, bruised, beautiful
Arnold depicts the power of women, or the lack of it, at the hand of men, through a twisted version of Little Red Riding Hood.
If you like fantastical books that can make your skin crawl, with imperfect female heroines, or you’ve enjoyed the titles MY DARK VANESSA by Kate Elizabeth Russel and FROZEN BEAUTY by Lexa Hillyer, this book is for you. Put RED HOOD on your TBR list. Better yet–buy it at your favorite Indie. (Support Independent bookstores!)
Victoria Krol is 15 year-old Freshman in high school with an absolute passion for reading, writing, the arts, and horseback riding. She is currently working on a novel with her co-partner Charley Ramos, which is in the midst of its second revision and currently has a plot that resembles lasagna. She met Erin dressed in full 70’s gear at the 2019 SCBWI LA Summer Conference, where their instant friendship resulted in her as a guest blogger.