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Familiar Diversions

I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.

Currently reading

Against the Paw
Diane Kelly
Progress: 194/352 pages
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World
Abigail Revasch, Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, Tara Sands, Listening Library
Progress: 67/473 minutes
The Mystic Marriage
Heather Rose Jones
Progress: 302/426 pages
Ichi-F: A Worker's Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant
Kazuto Tatsuta
Progress: 448/553 pages
The Naked Sun
Isaac Asimov
Progress: 20/187 pages
50 Girls 50 and Other Stories
Al Williamson, Frank Frazetta, Gary Groth
Fluency
Jennifer Foehner Wells
Progress: 58/367 pages

The Stolen Child: A Novel

The Stolen Child - Keith Donohue This book follows two intertwined lives, alternating chapters written in the perspectives of the two people. The first chapter is from the perspective of a changeling, describing how he switched places with a 7-year-old child named Henry Day. As time passes, this impostor Henry tries his best to appear like any other human and not draw unwanted attention. He is able to fool many people, but not everyone, including Henry's father, really believes that he's who he appears to be. Settling into his new life, Henry demonstrates amazing skill as a pianist, and he becomes consumed with a desire to find out more about his former human self, the one from whom his musical skills come. When he is older, he eventually marries and has a child, but he can never quite erase the fear that changelings will come and take the life he has built for himself away.The chapters written from the perspective of changeling Henry alternate with chapters written from the perspective of Aniday. When the changeling replaced Henry Day, the real Henry Day was taken into the woods and reborn as Aniday, a new changeling. Aniday tries to hold on to his past and the boy he once was, always longing to return to his family. The older changelings he lives with tell him that he can never go back to his own family - eventually, it will be his turn to find a child to replace, and then he'll get to go back to the world of humans again. Aniday gradually gets to know and care for many of the changelings, especially a female changeling named Speck. Although the changelings can't die of old age or diseases, tragedy still befalls the group, which rapidly grows smaller as certain members die or leave. Aniday has to figure out what to do about his budding feelings of love for Speck and his obsession with going home.I don't think this is something I would normally have read, but my book discussion group chose it as the book for the month. I found the initial chapters fascinating and read them quickly, but it eventually got harder for me to stay interested. Part of my problem was that I loved Aniday's part of the book, but I didn't really like Henry's.Aniday was a great character. I could understand his obsession with going home, and I was actually kind of surprised that he wasn't angry and resentful of the changelings who took him aways from his family. Even though he eventually wanted to leave, Aniday didn't keep himself distant from all the changelings. He got to know them all as much as they would let him - few of them ever wanted to talk about what their lives were like back when they were human - and he got as much joy out of his life as a changeling as he could. He connected the most with Speck and discovered his favorite place, the public library, with her help. His love for Speck felt genuine and allowed the reader to get to know her better than any other character besides Aniday or Henry.Henry, on the other hand, was much more focused on himself, despite the fact that there were many more people in his life than there were in Aniday's. Although he loved several people, including his mother and his wife, as much as he was able, it didn't feel as though he was able to love very deeply. As a result, the reader never really got to know the people in Henry's life very well, other than as beings he either loved or didn't. While Speck stuck in my mind, Tess, Henry's wife, didn't, because Henry never really seemed to talk with her about important things. A big part of the problem was probably that Henry couldn't confide the most important secret in his life, his existence as a former changeling, to anybody. He couldn't tell his parents that he replaced their 7-year-old son, and he could never bring himself to tell Tess anything, which also meant that he couldn't tell her anything about looking into Gustav Ungerland (his former self) and his reasons for doing so. He, like Aniday, was bound by his past, but because he couldn't/didn't confide that past to anybody, his relationships were much more superficial than Aniday's.I also wasn't entirely a fan of the book's fairly open ending. Donohue leaves it to the reader to decide if Aniday and Henry end up with lives that are happier and more satisfying than what they had had throughout the book. I like to assume that things go well for them both, and I think it's reasonable to think that things may go well for Aniday, but I was frustrated that Donohue took what I percieved as the easy way out when it came to Henry and his relationship with his family. After Henry falls in love with Tess, he constantly debates telling her about being a changeling, and the fact that he doesn't and is therefore forced to lie to her about some things or just not tell her things puts cracks in their marriage - Henry doesn't seem to really notice the cracks, but Aniday did, and so did I. Will Henry ever tell Tess about himself, or will he keep a large part of himself a secret from her for the rest of their lives? I don't know, and I can't help but feel that it was a bit wimpy of Donohue not to settle that issue.(Original review, with read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)