Thursday, October 1, 2009

Shadow of the Bear Book Review...

“You don’t have many bullets left, do you?” Bear said coolly. “I’ve been counting.”
“I have one more,” Freet’s voice said. “And I’d like to use it.”
“It’s over, Freet. You’d be better off quitting while you’re ahead,” Bear went on. He looked up at Blanche, and he seemed suddenly very far away from her. The gap of eternity had opened up between them. Her throat contracted.
“You don’t understand. It would be very satisfying to shoot you.”
“A costly satisfaction,” Bear said.

“Or I could shoot myself,” Freet added.
“I wouldn’t advise it,” Bear said.
“Of course not. You’re such a moralist. But it would solve a lot of problems for me. I’ve broken some bones, and I can’t possibly get away before the police come. Wouldn’t you rather I shot myself than you?”
“Honestly, I wouldn’t. I’m not fond of you, Freet, but I won’t wish hell upon you.”
“You would if you knew everything I’ve done,” Freet’s voice giggled.
“I know enough,” Bear said evenly, although Blanche saw he was struggling to hold his composure. “I can guess the rest.”
"And none of that makes you want to send me to hell?” Freet said derisively.
“What I want doesn’t matter. Hell is far worse than anything,” Bear said with the same calm voice.
“So you’d prefer I shot you?” Freet asked.
Bear shrugged.

I love this scene. It is one of those chapters where, in the words of one of the characters, “It’s as though the curtain that covered the machinery of the universe was pulled aside for a moment, and you saw how things work.” I have read several of Regina Doman’s books, but The Shadow of the Bear is my favorite. First drawn to it because it is based on one of my absolute favorite fairy tales, Snow White and Rose Red, it is one of those books I have read over and over.
Set in New York City, The Shadow of the Bear is the story of Blanche and Rose, two home schooled sisters who befriend Bear, a young man who got his nickname while in juvenile detention for drug possession. Why the only like-minded person they have found since moving to the city and starting Catholic school would have to be a juvenile delinquent is a total mystery to them, since he refuses to talk much about himself. The book is thrilling and funny, and, amazingly, both true to the fairytale and realistic!
Although I don’t agree with everything in the book, I appreciate the fact that it makes me think about what I believe and where I stand on certain issues. Even though the main characters are Catholic, their faith is so much more real than that of the people in most “Christian books” I’ve seen, that I found it refreshing. It seems natural and real, instead of a prayer thrown in or a verse randomly quoted. The girls live what they believe and it’s part of them, not an added-on story-crutch. Although the girls did certain things I would not do, the book ended up reinforcing why I would not do certain things. (Like go to an after-prom party!)
I identified a lot with Blanche, the older sister, the shy introvert, piano player, etc. Rose was more… how I would sometimes like to be, I guess. :) They were perfect together! I could relate to the girls’ home school background, the fun they have thrift shopping, their relationship with each other and their mom… The book has several very quotable lines and many unforgettable scenes. It’s kind of funny, but I’ve thought of Rose’s declaration that, “The boys at school are so degenerate that it makes one feel pessimistic about the future of the male gender in general,” many times when out and about, and I know exactly why she said it!
If this sounds interesting, the first chapter of the latest edition is posted on http://www.fairytalenovels.com/. Sometimes new editions of books bother me, but in this case, I like what I've seen of the 4th edition even better than the 1st! Someday I'd like to get the latest "version", but I'm still thrilled to have a 1st edition. (I got the book for $1 several years ago; looking on Amazon I just realized it was worth between $50 and $150.) Another thing I like about this book is that it is written by a woman with 7 children, who still takes time, not only to write, but also to answer millions of questions about her books!
I read the book aloud to my younger siblings and they loved it. Despite the number of times I’ve read it, I still find myself laughing at Fish and Rose and my heart pounding with Blanche. Once you read the book, you’ll understand why I wanted to name one of our puppies Bear, and then died laughing when I saw him a few months later, his fluffy baby fur turned in long, furry dreadlocks.


Which Fairy Tale Novel Character are you? (SPOILERS)
Blanche

The elder of the Briar sisters, Blanche is quiet, introvertive, sweet, loving, a deep thinker and possesses a heightened awareness of danger. She loves books (Chesterson!), piano, and Bear! Her choices of vocation is the medical field, although family comes first.

6 thoughts shared:

At night His song is with me said...

Katherine, I stumbled upon your blog after looking at my own profile (it's been awhile since I've looked at it) and randomly deciding to click on the link to the book Men of Iron. Yours was the first page that popped up, and your locations scripture reference caught my eye. Anyway, I thought it was neat to stumble upon someone who seems to be a faithful Christian on blogger, and I'd like to read your blogs. But, I would feel guilty reading them without you knowing about it, just because it seems like I'd be invading your privacy somehow. So, I wanted to mention that to you, and ask if it was ok for me to follow your blog (like, actually click Follow, or whatever.) I can follow it privately or whatever it is, too. Feel free to tell me that you'd rather not have me reading. That is absolutely fine. I'm just doing this on a whim anyway. Let me know. I'll click on the "email me for follow-up comments" so you can just reply to this entry if you want and I'll see it. I know this is probably strange, but I hope it doesn't freak you out. Anyway, thanks. I read your pro-life entry down the page a ways. Good luck with all of that. -Chris Clouzet

Katherine Sophia said...

No, I like whims. And I like people reading my blog, although I appreciate your asking. :) It's fine if you "Follow" it; I hope you enjoy it!

Merriette said...

I've been watching the movie project of The Shadow of the Bear for a long time, but had determined not to read the book because it has romance and looked a little to "thrillerish" for me. After reading the first chapter through the link you posted, though, I have to say that I already understand why people love this book. :) Ugh, I really shouldn't have read that because now I really want to read the entire book but their is no way I'm going to buy it. :)
Anyway, thanks for reviewing it and then posting the link to your review in your more recent post. :) Your review is by far the most helpful I've read.

Katherine Sophia said...

I'm glad it was helpful, Merriette! :) Oh, that would be hard to only read the first chapter! :( Perhaps you could get it at the library... that's what I did first. (I think I had to get it through inter-library loan.) :) It does have some parts that I skipped when reading aloud to my younger siblings... Overall, though, I really enjoyed it. I guess it depends where you are in life. :)

Merriette said...

You know what? I agree with everything you said here. Maybe I liked the book more than I thought. :) I did really like how it stayed true both to fairytale and real life.

Katherine Sophia said...

Haha, well, I'm glad you still like my review after you read the book! :) I thought yours was very interesting!

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