Monday, July 1, 2013

Doll Bones, by Holly Black

I absolutely LOVED this book. It was just the right mixture of creepy and heart-warming, and really kept the pages turning.

On the surface, it's about three friends, Polly, Alice, and Zach, who enjoy playing with dolls/action figures. They plan out elaborate lives/journeys for their characters, act them out during free time, and pass notes to one another to plan the stories during school. Polly's mother has a doll that is kept in a China cabinet, whom they refer to as "The Queen." When "The Queen" reveals herself to Polly as a ghost named Eleanor one night in a dream, Polly enlists her friend's help in determining Eleanor's true story, and laying her to rest once and for all. This leads the trio on a quest to a graveyard hours away from their town.

The problem with all of this lies in the fact that they are all twelve, in middle school. Playing dolls with girls in middle school does not exactly make life easy for a boy - especially one who's also a powerhouse on the basketball team.

So, on a deeper level, the story is about a coming of age, about growing up and having to abandon childish fantasies, or - as Polly describes it - dying. Zach is the first to realize, when his father throws away his action figures, that this child's play can't happen anymore. Alice realizes it too, but Polly does not want to move on.

This novel really made me think back to my childhood and my imagination. It made me think about who decides the age at which we are supposed to stop having a real imagination? Or, better yet, who decides that we're supposed to start curbing our imaginations, keeping the things we dream up under lock and key, refusing them creative outlet, until finally we can't think imaginatively anymore, even if we try.

Normally I just post a picture of the cover, but I found this and loved it...hopefully it will entice some to read Doll Bones!

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