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***Who Is Mathilda Savitch?***
After the death of her older sister Helene, Mathilda is trying to negotiate her way through adolescence and come to terms with the fact that Helene is never coming back. Her parents - especially her alcoholic mother - are not able to comfort her as they struggle with their own grief over the death of their daughter. With America about to delve into the biggest national tragedy they have ever experienced, Mathilda fights to find out the truth about what happened to her sister when all is crazy around her.
The writer of "Mathilda Savitch", Victor Lodato, has achieved great success with this book being praised across the board for his careful and thoughtful use of language throughout. Mathilda is the narrator of her own story, and the inner workings of her mind are laid out on the page making her an insightful, quirky and independent character. I'll say now that my opinion on this book changes greatly from the first half to the second, but for the beginning half, I feel that the author pitched her voice just perfectly. Not only does her voice come across believable, but she is one of those characters that a reader is unable to forget.
The book blurb will have you believe that this is a book about mathilda discovering what happened to her older sister a year ago - the story that Mathilda tells at the beginning of the book is that her sister was pushed in front of a train and she is determined to find out who did it. What is clear from Mathildas thoughts and actions throughout the book is that she isn't coping with her grief and by finding her sisters killer she will find closure.
For the first half of the book, I started to think that "Mathilda Savitch" had the potential to become a much talked about book for years to come. Several times in the book I tried to think who Mathilda's quirky, intelligent but confused voice reminded me of; the answer is "The Catcher In The Rye's" Holden Caulfield. Both confused, both make profound but simple and accurate statements about life but also are troubled and epitomise teen rebellion. However, I found that I was mistaken when, mathilda's voice goes from being a quirky adolescent to a girl who has more than her fair share of issues...yet no one seems to have addressed them except from something called "the tree". as much as I enjoyed Mathildas narrative, and as much as I'm sure the author would love his book to be in the same category as "The Catcher In the Rye" Mathilda has a fair way to go to get to the level of enjoyment and satisfaction I felt in reading Holdens story.
***Poor Mathilda...Help Her!***
There are some things in the book that I found hard to get my head round and at first I have to say that mathilda isn't a character that was likeable immediately. Despite the loss of her sister, her false bravado and behaviour to her friends didn't endear her, but thankfully with more insight into her life, I came to sympathise with her and understand her need for attention. However, the biggest thing that makes this book great is probably the one bit that will put off future readers. The narrative voice of mathilda is a forceful one, and quite frankly it is hard to see why there is no other characters in the story that seem to realise the damage that this young girl is causing herself.
Set as the backdrop to Mathildas personal mourning is the sudden and unexpected act of terrorism against America. 9/11 sends mathildas view on the world spinning even further. Seeing a man shoot himself on the telly and saying to the world "You Will All Die" has not done a lot of good for her already troubled young mind.
Overall, I found that this story was a good attempt but unfortunately was a bit off the mark. Mathilda as a narrative is unexpected, thought provoking and far from predictable. However, the downside of this is that mathilda is often quite unbelievable and it is hard to try and understand why a girl who is doing her damnedest to get herself attention still manages to be ignored by those around her.