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I'm a grad student, an avid reader, a huge nerd, fervent roleplayer, wife, cat lover, tea snob, and obsessive keeper of lists.
Highways and Dancehalls - Diana Atkinson Another book that I don't know how to review. I just didn't like it very much. Incredibly smart girl (for which the only proof is that she keeps telling us so), scarred from a childhood illness and operation, whose father left her family for inadequately explained reasons, therefore decides that she needs to be a stripper.

It just doesn't seem to have anything of consequence to say about any of those things. Being a stripper is tawdry and difficult? Doing drugs is bad? (The main character entirely stays away from hard drugs and having sex, other than with the loser with whom she's in a long-term relationship.) Being ill as a child will mess you up? Having your father leave will mess you up?

And maybe it's that - the book kept telling me she was messed up, but I never really believed it, just as I never really believed she was secretly really smart. I never got to know who she was, even though I was reading her diary.

I think the author was going for edgy, but I got opaque. Detached. Maybe that's what she was going for.

I wasn't upset by the book's content, I just didn't feel like she actually explained particularly well why these particular confluence of factors made this young woman who she was. It was more like she pointed out a bunch of factors. (Factors! See!) And then expected that to be enough in the way of character development, without really figuring out how these things might fit together.

Also, why save what the childhood illness was as a "reveal" until the end? It was actually fairly obvious, and not knowing really doesn't add any mystique. It didn't add any level of comprehension or surprise or depth. If you aren't going to achieve any of those things, walking through the book singing "I've got a secret illness in my past" at the top of your lungs is pointless.