October 24, 2006

One Last Thought-Provoking Read

The deceptively slim volume The Rag and Bone Shop--Robert Cormier's last novel before his death--is nevertheless classic Cormier, packing more emotion and edginess into a small space than one would ever think possible.

Cormier is so good at creating an atmosphere of foreboding that I knew, regardless of any hopeful signs, that the ending would contain a kernel of despair, if not something outright painful and disturbing. Certainly he has a past history of writing YA works that don't necessarily have a happy ending. This last written work is no exception.

When a seven-year-old girl is murdered, a renowned interrogator is called in to talk to the last person who saw her alive: twelve-year-old Jason Dorrant. Local politicians are demanding a culprit, and the interrogator's reputation is on the line. The novel takes a hard look at whether finding out the truth is really the most important thing, or if it's enough to just dig out what seems to be true. The novel also examines the responsibilities of adults in their treatment of children in this type of situation. Cormier shows that sometimes, if you want badly enough for something to be true, you can convince yourself that it is...but that only matters if you're in a position of power. And, sadly, sometimes perceived truth from someone in control will trump the real story. And then what happens?

Sadly, the murder victim is not the only victim in this story. Rather dark and disturbing, especially in its unflinching examination of the more unpleasant side of human nature, The Rag and Bone Shop is a gripping page-turner that will leave you unsettled at the end.

1 comment:

tanita s. davis said...

I have taken to comparing Cormier's works to Clint Eastwood's screenplays... nothing either of them write is without the hidden stinger, the deep, melancholia that haunts you long after you've read the book.

This was indeed a bitterly painful exploration, so very well done, but so accompanied by smarting eyes.