Guest Post by Suzan Nyfeler
I love to do needlework – cross stitch, hemming a skirt by hand, embroidery, old-school tapestries. But it’s the backsides that fascinate me – the part we are not meant to see.
These two books were needles up, battling it out to reveal with winner. But it’s not what we are supposed to see that makes the tales – it’s what is hidden behind that makes them worth reading.
Unwind by Neal Schusterman is set in a future United States where the pro-life and pro-choice camps have made a terrible compromise. All children are born but by one’s thirteenth birthday, if you are not worthy of continuing to live, your entire body is harvested and all useable parts are given to other people. It focuses on a year in the lives of Connor, Risa, and Lev - right as they are being sent to the Harvest Camps. How could our country have gotten to this ugly place? Turn over a complicated embroidery made too swiftly by an unskilled hand and you’ll see a back side that shows disguised decisions, loose threads, and a bare picture of what was actually intended. Schusterman reveals the back story to the cruel philosophy of what to do with all these kids and it’s not a pretty picture.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, is told by three women – Rachel (an alcoholic), Anna (the perfect wife), and Megan (the beautiful neighbor with the troubling past). A woman is found murdered. Like a needle threading back and forth, trains run through the story of each woman. With each pass of the engine their lives become slowly knitted together. As the fabric of their stories gets stitched tighter, the reader gets one step closer to solving this who-dunnit. I enjoyed the methodical pace at which facts were revealed – like the steady hum of a sewing machine. By switching between narrators, the reader sees both the actual truth and the amount of truth each woman can stand to bear. I’m a sucker for strong characters but have little patience for weakness. This was a story of strength but strength bound in tears, lies, and drink.
So, who wins the battle of the needles? Unwind, for the way the truth is revealed through cutting away the strings that bound the characters. For brave teens. For unending struggle against unjust laws. For hope.