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Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Orson Scott Card's A Town Divided by Christmas.

This book brings me a good bit of joy, as I've been waiting a long time to write this post. At BookExpo this year, I arranged to get Orson Scott Card's A Town Divided by Christmas from his very hands, with his autograph for my husband for Christmas. Ender's Game is one of his favorite books, so when I saw that he would be signing advanced review copies of his new book, I made it a priority. 

Of course I was going to read it first, which I did before I wrapped it. I had to hide it in my dresser drawer under another stack of books in hopes that he would never go through it. I then had to plan to read it in one setting on a day when he had a long day at work. It was a success and not too difficult at 108 pages. Also, it was a good read. I don't know much about Card's other work other than it's more fantasy based than this novel is, but I like what I have seen so far.

Spunky (aka, Dr. Spunk) is a post-doc who knows she will soon need a job. Her mentor receives a big grant based on her research, which focuses on whether there is a "homing gene" involved in small towns with residents who don't leave. She heads to Good Shepherd, North Carolina with her annoying but incredibly smart co-post-doc, Elyon, and sets up shop to sequence as much DNA as they can while also interviewing residents to create an ethnography of the town. They are hoping to be in and out by Christmas. Except that pesky part where they both end up falling in love with residents of the town and find that they don't want to leave. After all, if they leave before Christmas, they won't be able to see the dueling pageants put on by the split Episcopals which occurred after that fateful holiday season of 1930. Southerners understand that this happens. Outsiders -- well, they either catch on or they don't.

I was quite taken with the characterization; Card has a hankering for writing very real, very full characters. Left in the hands of a less skilled writer, I would have been incredibly annoyed that this story came up with these conclusions so quickly. (After all, as I said, this novelette is only 108 pages.) However, Card has deftly crafted a whole series of characters, not just Spunky and her co-worker, who jumped off the page and came to life within a few paragraphs. His prose and his dialogue serve the characters well, and they read as so very real. Having a background in the ivory tower myself, I felt like I knew the two of these very well. I know people just like them.

I was quite taken with this story and I found myself wonderfully surprised that I was able to get this book, and the surprise came from my own enjoyment. I'm glad I was able to get this for my main squeeze (love you babe!), but I was also happy that I found the time to sneak in a quick read before I had to wrap this up for him. It's a lovely holiday read, and you still have time to get it in before the new year!

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