Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Love Story, by Jennifer Echols

Love StoryLove Story by Jennifer Echols

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm going to start rereading this again tonight on my way home, because a) it's worth it, there's lots to sink your teeth into, and it's a great story; and b), as usual, in my what happens next frenzy, I feel like I missed enjoying a lot of the subtleties, the foreshadowing and the imagery that I saw from the corner of my eye as I zoomed by on my plot driven rampage. One of the many things I like about Jennifer Echols' more serious books (although I love those Simon Pulse romcoms, too!) is that there is a depth to her stories that makes them worth reading thoughtfully, carefully, deeply, in a way that I remember from college. Why is this image used here, what does the setting tell us about the characters and their story, that kind of thing. I'm no literary critic or even an astute student, but I am a good reader who likes to think about those kind of things, like the bridge in Going Too Far, that was such a crucial plot point as well as a symbol for the characters' feelings and their relationship. So, in this book, I thought the choice of a horse farm was really brilliant, and the horses themselves (in the abstract, it's not like Walter Farley or something, and most of the book is set in NYC) were such an important part of understanding Erin and Hunter. For Erin, horses seemed to represent something she both loved and mistrusted, both the powerful unconstrained feeling of freedom to run/live untrammeled, and also the confined, closeted feeling of being shoved into a starting gate by forces and authority beyond her control. *SPOILER (SORT OF) ALERT* The circumstances of her mother's death also created a huge fear and bad association issue with horses, tempered by the rational realization that it wasn't the horse's fault. But the idea that "that's just the way they are," doesn't make them less scary, really now, does it? *OK NOW. For Hunter (and that's a kind of horse, right?), horses seemed to represent not so much freedom, but rather more constraint, since they were the means by which he became a social inferior, and also a source of constant work which he never really seemed to enjoy. I haven't exactly figured out why, on the first day of class, his "horse drawing," doesn't include an actual horse, but rather a cluster of images of tack associated with a horse, but I think this was a big clue to his ambivalence (at best) about them, and what they represented to him. It's cool to contrast that with Erin's drawing, which also tries to represent not so much an actual horse as the feeling of freedom in motion. So Erin's relationship to Hunter seemed to share some of the characteristics of her feelings about horses: conflicted, scared, yearning, tender, full of memories good and awful, and most of all, mistrustful of something that could be so beautiful yet leave such pain and sense of loss in its wake. I enjoyed the way this was written, too, with Erin and Hunter's class assignments interspersed. They were fun to read, they added variety to the tone in a fun and sometimes mysterious way, they moved the story forward, and provided lots of insight and backstory in a clever and interesting way without being all expository. So all in all, a rich reading experience with lots of emotion, expressed through many different levels of story, image, character and wonderfully chosen words. So yup, definitely worth rereading!

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