June 19, 2006

48 Hour Reading Contest: Feminist Future

First of all, I don't know who decided that Candas Jane Dorsey's A Paradigm of Earth was a YA novel. Not that it wasn't brilliant, but it was complicated and deep, with a decidedly open attitude about adult issues, (and with a few disturbed characters, too). Somone must have mis-shelved it, and I didn't look before I picked it up... Even though it's not quite YA, it's fascinating.

A woman who loses her father to cancer and her mother to suicide the next day is empty of everything, and feeling shredded. She is a counselor in a hospital, whose work with the severely disfigured or disabled has left her nothing to fall back on. She's just lost her girlfriend, but gained a house, through inheritance. She fills it with strangers, trying to find family. She's broke and miserable and depressed in such an elemental way that she appears colorless on the page. Nothing matters to her, not the news screaming from the headlines (and being chatted about by the members of her co-op) that an alien has landed on earth. She's not impressed. A gray woman who answers an ad for a childcare worker, teaching an adult.
The adult, she finds out, is blue. Eventually that is what she names him/her, Blue, for the blue shade of his/her skin. An alien being, emptied of any knowledge of his/her own home or civilization, his/her only purpose is to learn -- everything -- about being a human. S/he has a human body, of sorts, but it isn't potty trained. It throws food like a toddler, when it doesn't like the taste. Week by week, it develops, and the life of the gray woman, and soon, the lives of her housemates, is changed irrevocably.
Why is this Blue here? What does it really mean to be human? How can a single person be a paradigm of Earth?

This is a fascinating and well-written novel... definitely not YA, but worth reading for the future-tense possibilities.

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