Thursday, December 22, 2011

Meggie Brooks

Meggie Brooks by Daphne Woods (Princeton, NJ: Heather Press, 2010).

Summary from Meggie Brooks is the gripping story of a girl growing up in a small rural township in New Jersey, living an almost idyllic life, enjoying the beauty of her country environment, spending time with her sometimes dysfunctional relatives, and uncovering a family mystery. But that is only one side of the story. Although she is an excellent student, Meggie finds out early on what happens when she confronts the politically correct agenda of the schools. A young Meggie is silenced and traumatized for attempting to speak her views about global warming—views she has developed after watching a video on the subject with her parents. After that incident, she becomes wary of speaking out on issues in the classroom, and it is years before she finds the inner strength to defend her own views. She ultimately does, however, even becoming a lawyer in order to defend religious freedom and free-speech rights, and in the end, it is a story of triumph. Meggie's search for truth in her family correlates with her search for truth in the world around her. A young girl's journey into adulthood, a poignant search for love, a family saga full of mystery and intrigue, and a passionate romance—this amazingly rich novel is all these and more.

Yikes!  I wish I had read this description instead of the one that the author sent me before I agreed to review this book, which is filled with horrendous ultraconservative, right-wing claptrap.  Meggie is a self-righteous, whining crybaby whose parents are litigious boors.  Their eagerness to sue the schools belies their contempt for the judiciary as being too liberal.  They get their views from such biased sources as Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and don't bother considering other perspectives although they're quick to criticize all other media outlets as liberals who don't consider alternative views.  This is clearly a conundrum, but then so much of what Meggie spouts is.

The novel itself largely consists of lengthy and ill-informed diatribes thinly veiled as discussions among characters--emphasis on lengthy, for this novel tops out at over 500 dense, narrowly margined pages.  Meggie makes much of her Christian values, but her brand of Christianity is so hateful and vile, Christ Himself wouldn't recognize how twisted His words can become in the mouths of fundamentalist Evangelicals like Meggie who hate homosexuals and poor people. Meggie's frequent run-ins with teachers and other folks who happen to disagree with her are almost comical in their uniformly negative physical descriptions of her tormenters.  Liberals are all fat, ugly, frumpy, greasy and just plain unattractive; truly they are the great unwashed to Meggie. Further, Meggie's endless harping on the weight of other female characters (all of them, not just the liberals) amply illustrates her superficial and judgmental nature.

Meggie Brooks was billed to me as a YA novel, but the long tracts of dull political wrangling can hold little appeal to that audience.  The so-called romances are also mainly opportunities for Meggie to either condemn liberal perspectives or approve ultraconservative ones.  The SAT vocabulary seems highly overwrought  and makes the characters sound like pretentious prats. Reading this novel was truly a painful experience though it did illuminate for me precisely how Washington has ended up in such dire straits.
Not recommended for anything but the recycle bin.

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