Monday, November 28, 2011

Books: The Little Friend

The Little Friend
By Donna Tartt
Copyright 2003
Abridged Audiobook 6 hours
Read by the author

Sometimes I wonder why I pick up particular audiobooks. This one read like a mild mystery on the blurb. In a way it was, but then again, it wasn't. This was a book that in many ways was quite an indictment on today's society.

Harriet is 12 years old. When she was four months old, her brother, Robin, died in a mysterious incident in the family yard. He was found hung from a rope. However, no one was ever convicted of a crime.

The death sent her mother spiraling into a depression. Her father took a job in Nashville and left their Mississippi home, leaving her mother and nursemaid Ida to raise Harriet and her older sister Allison.

Since Harriet is raised virtually unsupervised, at 12 she is willful and, frankly, mean. I had a hard time feeling sorry for the character, though I think I was supposed to.

She decides she will find out who killed her brother. She thinks that if she solves this mystery, her life will be better.

Her sleuthing, though, leaves a lot to be desired. She determines that Danny Ratliff, now grown, killed her brother. She bases her knowledge solely on Ida's word and on the fact that Ratliff grew up and still lives on the wrong side of the tracks. He is, in local parlance, white trash. So of course he must have killed her brother.

This insane logic drove me crazy and it made it hard for me to enjoy the story. Not only was Harriet sure that Ratliff was the murderer, she decided that she had to kill him in order to obtain retribution. This kind of thinking is so out of line with my own value system that I had a very hard time with it. I am not much on an eye-for-an-eye at any time, but to want to kill someone just because you're sure of something, whether it's logically true or not, is just plain wrong.

Her determination leads her to peril and misadventure, none of it particularly pleasant. She even nearly kills Ratliff's grandmother, but shows little remorse over this mistake.

This book offers a lot of things to think about. For example, do you believe in vengeance? If so, why? And what happens if the wrong person pays for a crime he didn't commit?

The book is full of class issues, too. Harriet's family is old money, genteel folk who are no longer wealthy but still have social status. The Ratliff's are painted as drug-dealing ne'er-do-wells, but the author, thankfully, switches point of view to show how much they care for their grandmother and gives them a little humanity.

I just wish I had felt a little more love for Harriet. I found her impossible to like.

1 comment:

  1. I've never understood why everybody doesn't listen to audiobooks when they are driving! Love 'em! (the good ones anyway!)
    I'm about 7 books behind on my reviews for my blog, guess I'd better get cracking!
    Grace

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