Thursday, January 10, 2013

The 10 p.m. Question...completely random thoughts


I think I just finished my favorite read of 2013. I know, pretty bold statement, huh? But this is just one of those rare books that burrowed its way into my heart and took up permanent residence there.

The thing is, I don't know how to talk about it. The way any of us react to any book on any particular day is extremely personal. Now no one is ever going to accuse me of being "objective" when it comes to talking about books--it's not something I even care to aspire to. But you know how some books are so personal that there is no extracting them from your own life? Tender Morsels was one of those books. The 10 p.m. Question is another.

Okay, a few of the easy things...I loved the name of the pets, particularly Fat Controller...I loved that it is set in New Zealand...I loved the mentions of all the mouth-watering baking Frankie's mom does...I love the Aunties (OMG--I loved the Aunties!)...I loved that it was about ordinary life. Ahhh, but there is where we cross the line into difficult to talk about...

The book focuses on Frankie, a 12-year-old boy, with definite anxiety issues. It focuses on his wonderful, quirky, oh-so-realistic family and on the myriad relationships involved. It focuses on his friends, one long-time (Gigs) and one new (Sydney). I said "oh-so-realistic" in describing his family...which isn't the same as saying your stereotypical normal family. See, Frankie's mom hasn't left the house in 9 years. No one talks about it. Well, except his new friend Sydney, who talks about everything.

Sydney was an insatiable questioner; a steady stream issued from her mouth the entire time Frankie was with her. She had a bottomless bag of queries about everything, and everyone--Frankie, Gigs, Ma, Uncle George, the cat, the dog, the people next door... She was indecently curious. She seemed quite unrestrained in the way other people were, by delicacy or a sense of personal privacy, or the idea that it was perhaps none of her business. Apparently most things were her business.

Oh crap. I'm getting nowhere here. Okay, let me say this. This book is, in my opinion, an incredibly realistic look at what anxiety feels like. Here's possibly too-much-personal information. I have a 12-year-old son with generalized anxiety disorder. He used to have selective mutism as well. I have a daughter with anxiety issues, as well as OCD. And I have some pretty major problems with anxiety myself. I *can* leave my house, but unless Rich is with me or I absolutely *have* to, I choose not to. (The fact that we had to sell our van, and that we now have just one car, a car that I can't even drive because it's a stick shift--this is a blessing of major proportions to me. It makes Rich's life harder, and yet he gladly endures it, partially for the money savings but mostly I think because it takes so much stress off my daily life. In fact, Uncle George, Frankie's father, reminds me quite a lot of Rich.) But as I was saying, there were just so many things in this book that made me certain the author had personal connections to the hell of overwhelming anxiety herself. The way Frankie makes lists in his head to distract himself when the worrying thoughts are threatening to totally overwhelm him. The way he has relatively easier periods.

It was strange the way this happened. He'd noticed it before. One week he'd by bouncing along relatively happily, only a couple of minor problems bothering him. A week or two later, the problems would have burgeoned and multiplied until the list of matters to solve dominated his thoughts and none of his usual pleasure could give him a scrap of comfort.

And the way it at times just seemed to overwhelm him.

He wanted the manic listing to end; he wanted to extinguish the horror waves and the cold fingers around his heart. He wanted the malignly insistent thoughts to be banished forever; he just wanted it all to stop, and he wanted so very badly to sleep.

I've got to be honest...this book made me feel guilty. As hard as I, in all the ways I can, try to not let my incessant worrying affect the kiddos, I know it has to. It's unavoidable. And yet, it also made me feel okay, feel human, flawed of course, but human, even if not in the way that is largely considered "normal."

Sheesh. I'm still not getting anywhere here. How about you just go read Ana's review instead, if you haven't already. Seriously...that would be the thing to do.

And yes, this makes for my second read for the Long-Awaited Reads (That Are All Ana's Fault) Month.

12 comments:

Renay said...

I'm reading this book soon! I'm excited now. Favorite book of 2013? Already? ;)

Eva said...

What a powerful, brave review Debi. I know how difficult it can be to blog about certain books. My own post on Tender Morsels didn't do it justice at all & a lot of me wants to reread it & do another post that would but another part of me is too scared to do so. So I'm so impressed by how you wrote about this one and now I definitely want to read it.

Also, I'm glad you didn't sell the van until after my visit! Would've been harder to go on the group trips! I'd have had to ride in the trunk. ;)

Eva said...

One more thing: other than travelling, I don't leave my own house very often either, usually once a week for the library, during which time I do any other errands I have to. (Ok, I also try to work in as many walks in the park w Thistle as I can, but that's less than a mile away and doesn't involve me interacting w anyone else.) But even then sometimes my mom takes care of that for me if I'm too sick to drive. If I have to leave more than twice a week I end up stressed & exhausted. While a lot of it for me is physical, I don't feel deprived by having to spend 90% of my time at home. In fact, I feel quite fortunate to be able to. IMO,as long as there's internet, being a homebody is underrated.

Kailana said...

You are rocking the month so far! Happy reading!

Care said...

It's great to have top reads already in January, huh? I have read 3 books and all SO different from each other and I gave 2 of them 5 stars. Despite my post saying I am incredibly grumpy this week, I am also over the top joyful that I have my alone time again. I need alone time, I crave and enjoy and love my alone time. But I question sometimes why I need it and yet why people think I am such a people-person. Or maybe I'm becoming less and less a people-person as I grow into myself? yea whatever. This looks like an interesting read. I'll put on my tbr. Off to go read Ana's rev. Hugs, C

Jean said...

A very powerful review, and some interesting comments. I am very much an introvert, yet while I could be quite happy rarely interacting with other people, I also crave seeing and experiencing the world outside my walls. Perhaps that is where I get the energy I then use up when I have to engage in the whole social thing that causes discomfort. I shall have to ponder this further. Food for thought, for which I thank you and your other readers.

Eva said...

You know Jean after thinking about your comment, I also explore my city (in a way, as if I were travelling here). But the excursions aren't terribly frequent: usually once a month, maybe twice, so I think of them as exceptions rather than the rule.

Darren @ Bart's Bookshelf said...

I remember this book making a big splash when it came out, and wanting to read it then. I really want to read it now!

irisonbooks.com said...

Okay, reading your review this book definitely has to go on my TBR pile. And really, I think you did this book justice. It was so brave of you to write about your personal response to this. It was the part that convinced me that I need to read this. *hugs*

Debi said...

Renay,
If you love it even half as much as I did, it will be time so incredibly well-spent!

Eva,
Yeah, I totally get what you're saying about Tender Morsels. I'd love to read more of your thoughts on it, and yet at the same time I don't want you to have to go through the struggle of writing them. I mean, I know it's good to examine our feelings and all. And if you're like me, that book, as hard as it was, was a book of healing. But still... yeah...

Kelly,
Yeah, I actually felt like I was off to a good start, but things have definitely slowed waaaay down...

Care,
I crave alone-time, too! Sometimes I feel like I'm going stark raving mad when I don't get any. But you know, I'm guessing that even many people-persons feel that way. And you know, being really good with people like you are may lead people to think you're a people-person, even if that's not how you feel inside. People-person or not, you are very, very lovable!!!

Jean,
Those are some interesting thoughts! I think in some respects I'm like that, too. Though I prefer my in the world time to be in nature-ish situations. Not because I don't appreciate culture and the like, but I think because being around people is just so anxiety-producing that I can never come close to feeling relaxed like I am in nature.

Darren,
I hope you do...it is so. darn. good.

Iris,
Thank you, that was so kind of you to say. :) It really is such a wonderful, wonderful book.

Carl V. said...

It is always great to find a book early in the year that just blows you away. Though it sets a high standard for the rest of the year it is worth is because you can ride that great feeling, that book high, for a long time.

And I don't know if there is such a thing as being 'objective' when you love books! :)

Snowball said...

That does it! Now I have to spend some of my poetry pennies on this book.

You had me at lists. I have to write them on paper. If I had to name my style of home decor, it would be "super sticky noteaganza."

I don't like leaving my house either, but in the way of the cosmic sense of humor, I am an itinerant tutor. The coping mechanisms I employ highlight my creativity (and tax it too).

I really enjoy visiting here and everything you share, involved or not, leaves me enriched. Sometimes I'm challenged, sometimes educated, but always I smile.