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The Wall and the Wing, by Laura Ruby

Last year, I read and reviewed Lily's Ghosts, by the same author. I liked it, but it was very uneven. Not so her latest middle-grade book, The Wall and the Wing, which came out in February. It is clever and well-thought-through and well-paced and, well, I guess I should say a bit about it.

The MC in The Wall and the Wing is a young girl named "Gurl," who lives in a horrifying orphanage in the midst of an alternate-universe New York City in which most people can fly. Now, most of them can't fly really, really well -- only the "Wings" can do really amazing flying. But they can at least get a few feet off the ground and hover, and it's a preferred trait amongst the masses. Gurl can't fly, and is therefore branded a "leadfoot." But she's not just any leadfoot, she's a leadfoot who can become, for all intents and purposes, invisible.

Other characters in the book include a boy named Bug who looks remarkably praying-mantis-like, a criminal named Sweetcheeks, a man with a zipper on his face (and believe me, you will be shocked by the horror behind the zipper), giant red-eyed rat-men with a penchant for cats, a Professor with grass instead of hair who wears women's housecoats and has pocketsful of kittens, and the Richest Man in the Universe. (All on the flap copy -- really, I've given you no spoilers here.)

On the front of the book is a blurb from Esmé Codell, praising Ruby for developing authentic American fantasy. Now, I always wonder about blurbs, but I must agree. Ruby has invented something unique (to my knowledge), and brilliantly so. And the way that history and legend and the present alt-universe dovetail is reminiscent of the way things come together so flawlessly in Holes, by Louis Sachar.

And so, my friends, by all means get your hands on this book and have a look-see. I doubt that you'll work it all out in advance, and I guarantee you won't regret it.

P.S. -- if you check out Laura Ruby's website, you can see the cover for the U.K. version, which includes pictures of Gurl and Bug. The U.S. version features a caged cat whose name may or may not be Luverna.

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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 23rd, 2006 12:55 pm (UTC)
Wow!!! Sounds exceptionally cool! Thanks for sharing!
May. 23rd, 2006 01:05 pm (UTC)
I'll be reading it, all right! I read Lily's Ghosts and I wasn't impressed. I gotta read what's been given such high praise. "Authentic American fantasy" riles me. I gotta check this out....
May. 23rd, 2006 01:22 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it made my eyebrows rise exceptionally high when I saw it, too. But she pulled off a very original idea, and so I have to hand it to her . . .
May. 23rd, 2006 01:26 pm (UTC)
I will readily admit that I am very jealous of "original" ideas. Not to say I wouldn't rave about her book if I loved it, 'cause I would, but I can't deny my most human first reaction.
May. 23rd, 2006 01:08 pm (UTC)
I'm heading over to amazon--I think my son would love this! THanks--
May. 23rd, 2006 09:45 pm (UTC)
Wow, that book sounds exceptionally cool. Thanks for reviewing it, I'll definitely check it out!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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