Thursday, 13 November 2008
Sophie Parkin - Bazaar Nights and Camel Bites
Sophie is coming as guest speaker in a week's time and I am writing up her talk. I had looked at her website and at extracts from her novels but now I have her latest teen novel in my hands. She writes in the first person and I would say finds the voice of a teenage girl - the daughter in My Family. The opening seems to hang loose from the central action, but Parkin too knows her Aristotle as the visit from the school teacher to the bizarre family Christmas is given meaning as she quotes from the book her gave her on Morocco. The inciting incident is the coming of the French boy whom both friends fancy. Thus far most of the conflict about this is internal to Lily the protagonist.
I have come to the camel bite and the trip to the bazaar and I admit surprise. I am enjoying this book aimed at teenage girls. The protagonist has a convincing character; her voice is authentic and we spend a lot of time with her. The other characters are well shaped and the conflict is gentle but never far away. It is part overt but part internal and this is a strength.
I have finished Camel Bites and really liked it, which worries me. I am a tad older than a teenager and surely seriously out of touch; I would be fascinated to see how actual teenagers react (I will have a look at some reviews). Three things interested me in particular. There is a strong moral element; educational information is provided both by the lines in French, but also by the description of Tangier; finally prayer is given what seem to be genuine space as Lily enters a church and tells of her problems. If these things are acceptable to a 21st century audience then tell me where I begin.