Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Tangle of Knots, by Lisa Graff

In this MG magical realism tale, most everybody has a Talent. It might be something useful and endearing, like Cady's talent, which is being able to look at a person and know what his or her perfect cake is, and then perfectly bake that cake. It might be something odd, like the ability to lick a hundred envelopes in eight seconds, or quite in keeping with what's expected of a boy who considers himself worthless, such as spitting with the accuracy of a sharp-shooter. Then there are those who don't have a talent, or haven't found it, who are called Fair, such as Marigold, who spends all her time trying one harebrained scheme after another in an attempt to find her Talent.

The book is itself a tangle of knots, and hard to summarize. It's about connections. It's about near-misses, and in that way reminds me of Lynne Rae Perkins's Criss-Cross. It's about a lot of disparate people and puzzle pieces coming together in the end, and in that way it reminds me of The Westing Game. I also think of it a bit as "The Penderwicks meets Savvy."

I saw a fair number of the plot twists coming; ditto which characters would turn out to be related and how. There are a lot of POV shifts, and at one point near the middle of the book I felt like I'd had one too many. But I cared about Cady, Zane, Marigold, and others, and wanted to find out how a dinosaur bone, a lost peanut butter recipe, a hot air balloon, an author who'd lost all verbal ability, a man in a gray suit with knots in his pockets, a place called The Lost Luggage Emporium, and more, would all come together. This novel, which is up for the National Book Award, is a fascinating puzzle that shows how a lot of different people and separate stories can converge at one moment in time.

16 comments:

Kim Van Sickler said...

I immediately thought of Criss-Cross once you started describing this book!

Barbara Watson said...

I adored this book and also adore your 'Penderwicks meets Savvy'!! It's perfect! I'll be rereading it soon when my daughter and I read it aloud together.

Vijaya said...

Sounds like a fascinating read, and I love your description of "Penderwicks meets Savvy." I do so appreciate your books reviews, Marcia.

Mirka Breen said...

You're an excellent reviewer, Marcia. Too many POV shifts are hard for me as a reader, too. But this one seems interesting.

Leandra Wallace said...

I do so love hot air balloons! And I wish somebody would bake me the perfect cake! =)

Marcia said...

Kim -- Great minds! :)

Barbara -- I think this one could probably benefit from rereading. I reread so little, though. There are so many books that it's hard for me to read something I've already read.

Vijaya -- Thank you. You know, it's so much easier to see this "A meets B" thing about other books than about your own.

Mirka -- Thanks! I once read a book with 11 POVs. I didn't count how many this one has.

Leandra -- Have you been up in one? My MIL won a hot air balloon ride once. I know; I'd love to find out what somebody thinks my perfect cake is.

Kelly Hashway said...

I love the cover. That's really eye-catching.

Bish Denham said...

And the things is, tangles like that are all around us and happen all the time. This is probably a book I'd enjoy.

Marcia said...

Kelly -- I do, too!

Bish -- Exactly what I was thinking. It's the main reason I love multiple POV novels.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

It sounds like a great read, Marcia. Thanks for sharing. :)

Andrea Mack said...

This sounds so interesting! I hadn't heard of it before. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! :)

Connie Arnold said...

Sounds like a talented author to weave this puzzle of a story. Thanks for your review, Marcia.

Marcia said...

Sharon -- You're welcome!

Andrea -- I know, there are so many books I haven't heard of either! But that means new discoveries all the time.

Connie -- I love stories where many threads come together.



Ron Smith said...

Hmpf. Very interesting. I've heard several people mention the Westing Game as one of their favorite books. I think it was published before MG and YA really took off, correct?

Maybe I'll check out A Tangle of Knots.

Marcia said...

Ron -- The Westing Game won the 1979 Newbery. There was a healthy MG industry at that time, but not as much YA as today.

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