Finally. I finally read Harry Sue.
I LOVED THIS BOOK.
If I had a box full, I'd be handing 'em out on the street corner:
Harriet Susan Clotkin is not the sort of name you'd imagine for the first lady president of the United States. That's just fine by me, as I never had designs on running for political office but planned instead on following in the family tradition: a career of incarceration. As soon as I was old enough, I was headed for the joint. First I had to have the required fourteen to sixteen years of rotten childhood. So far, I had only served eleven years and change.
Seriously. How could you not love her? Go. Read.
Harry Sue lives with her wicked Granny, who makes life miserable without raising a hand. That doesn't mean that everyone else is safe -- she is constantly trying to protect the crumb snatchers* from Granny Clotkin, who runs the cheapest daycare around.
But Harry Sue can't protect them all the time. She has to spend her weekdays doing time at Trench Vista Elementary School with the with the cheese eaters** and the busters***.
Luckily, she has Homer Price to count on. He's got his own time to do, and it's a life sentence with lots of time in the hole, but he's there for Harry and Harry's there for him. She has The Wizard of Oz, which she loves so much that she's read it twenty-seven times. There's also Beau, Homer's home health aide, who taught them Conglish, and Harry knows that someday, she'll make it into The System and she'll find her mom.
So. Super. Fab. While I caught some of the parallels to The Wizard of Oz, the Author's Note pointed out a whole lot more that I'd missed. Actually, while I'm on that subject: The paperback cover art is really, really attractive -- I do think that kids will be more likely to pick it up now -- but it's too bad that they went with the red sneakers. Harry Sue shows a decent amount of contempt for the differences between the book and the movie version, so really, her sneaks should be silver.
I grant you that the red is attractive, though.
In terms of issues dealt with, it's quite dark, but Harry's voice -- original and so smart -- makes it feel lighter and it reads fast and snappy. It's hopeful and the connections Harry Sue has and makes with people -- Homer, J-Cat, Baba, the crumb snatchers -- made me think of the Vachss**** quote: "It's the family you choose that counts."
***jerk, rhymes with "can't trust her"
****Yes, I have Vachss -- and that quote specifically -- on the brain. It's because the de Lint book opens with it.