The book takes place in the 1960's, and centers on a teenage girl named Bliss. Her hippie mother has been disowned by her wealthy, proper grandmother and she is sent to a boarding school to get a good, and godly, education.
My first comment on this book is just about the typographic presentation; I really enjoy seeing a break from the usual fonts in the books I read, and I think too many authors/designers underestimate how much a font can add to the book's overall impact on the reader. But considering that Myracle was the first author to write a novel entirely in Instant Messenger format, it's not surprising that she would recognize the value of differentiating the voice of the narrator from the mysterious voice she's hearing in one of the school buildings- the voice that likes to talk about flesh and blood and bones. . .
I was already enjoying the story, and then on page 48, Bliss informs the reader that she's eager to continue reading Jane Eyre because she's "just discovered the existence of the madwoman in the attic".
She's baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack. . .
That mad woman in the attic seems to permeate my reading experience as of late. Recently I wrote about how this theory was a thread in The Hired Girl, this year's Scott O'
Dell award winner, and now here's another historical fiction story that uses that allusion, and I certainly don't believe the Jane Eyre reference is a coincidence. There must be a reason why Lauren Myracle chose to include that literary allusion, and there must be a reason why Bliss is enjoying that story unfolding before her. . .
I'm assuming that with her love and tolerance mindset (for example, she cannot comprehend why some people are not in favor of integrating schools: "It's confusing to me that visible wickedness- because that's what racism is, wickedness- is in some ways harder to fight than whiffs of blood and bones.") is going to be an angel, and there's some madwoman waiting in the wings.