Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sonny's House of Spies...random thoughts

Sonny's House of Spies by George Ella Lyon.

First off, just let me say that I adored this book. Absolutely adored it. This is one of those times that I wish I rated books, just so I could give this one top marks. A big thank you to Medbie, for it was her wonderful review which brought it to my attention.

Sonny's House of Spies is essentially a coming of age story, set in rural Alabama in the 1950s. We first meet Sonny at age nine, when his father walks out on the family. But most of the book takes place four years later. Sonny's older sister, Loretta, is as smart as she is smart-mouthed. And his younger brother, Deaton, was too young when their father left them to even remember him. So in many ways, Sonny feels alone in his quest to understand what happened, and alone in his loyalty to his long-lost father.

There is so much going on in this book, but I don't want to give anything away. Family relations, racism, religion, homophobia...all that and much more.

But what is it that I loved so much about this book?

Maybe top of the list, comes the writing. I felt myself transplanted to the South with every page I read. I'm willing to bet I could turn to nearly any page in the book and find a passage worthy of sharing, but I'll just share a few:

We sat right up front, of course. And it was hot, hot, hot. All the windows had been propped open, but it was one of those afternoons when the air lay on top of you like a big cat, and no waving of cardboard Jesus-at-the-door fans could make it get up and move.

You get people in your house and give them food and it's hard to get them out. This crowd stayed till five-thirty and when they finally left even the furniture looked tired.

My head hurt, my stomach felt all pinched up, and my heart was pumping dread instead of blood.

Many a time this book brought a smile to my face. Once it had me nearly rolling on the floor with laughter. And twice the tears rolled as hard as that laughter did.

But in addition to the writing and the story itself, there are the characters. Oh, how I love the characters in this book. Especially Sonny. And Loretta. And Mamby. The people in this book, the likable and unlikable both, just feel so real.

This book is housed in the young adult section in our library. And while I feel it is entirely appropriate for those readers, I also think it's one of those books that can only bring you more as an adult. Truly a sweet, heart-breaking, wonderful book.


If you have reviewed this book, feel free to leave a link in the comments, and I'll add it here. Thanks.

Medbie at Medb's Montage


Read for:

The Southern Reading Challenge. (Though it wasn't one of my original choices. Bad me.)


Medbie said...

I'm so glad you liked it! You wrote such an awesome review that if I hadn't already read it, I'd have to go and read it. :D I read your review out loud to my husband, since you mentioned things I left out, and I think we've finally got him convinced to read it. :D

Chris said...

This sounds like an amazing book Debi! I hadn't heard of it before. But guess's going right onto the wishlist ;) I've been really into these YA literature books lately for some reason. They're just really capturing me at the moment.

Nymeth said...

This sounds like a must read! And I hadn't heard of it before either. The writing does seem amazing. I really like this line in particular: "it was one of those afternoons when the air lay on top of you like a big cat".

Thanks for the great review, Debi.