"You get to choose. Either you poke a hold in the nest with your finger and get stung all over, or else you run away as fast as you can." -From the book 14-year-old Susanna lives in a village where old grudges and long-standing resentments are stifling, making even the neighbor's barking dogs a major crisis. Susanna is stuck in the middle, baffled by her beautiful, heartbroken mother's betrayal of a lifelong friend. When a handsome traveling puppeteer comes to town, Susanna is inspired to stir up the hornets in her town's nest of troubles.
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Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Dutch
Opening with a scene of the narrator, Susanna Dantine, being born (she narrates from the womb), Moeyaert's (Bare Hands) novel reads like a convoluted fairy tale, complete with a character named Wolf and a dark wood. Fourteen-year-old Susanna's own flashbacks of early childhood are spliced into her present-day account of the gloomy events in her tiny European village. Nearly all the townspeople have signed a petition to get rid of the dog kennel run by Helen's husband. Helen, an old family friend, was the midwife at Susanna's birth. So when Susanna's mother succumbs to the neighbors' pressure, the teenager is outraged. In a surreal plot point, a dashing puppeteer named Wolf suddenly appears in the village. Around him, Susanna feels attractive and adventurous. At the height of the summer festival, Wolf tells her she must either "poke a hole in the [hornet's] nest" and bring the town's tensions into the open or run away. Readers may find the introduction of the book's key elements disarming, like the appearance of the puppeteer, flashbacks that reveal Helen's husband's abusive ways or the description of Susanna's father's sudden death (he was accidentally shot by a wealthy hunter while walking in the woods). Because the dreamlike quality of the tale so outweighs the actual events, readers may be hard pressed to understand the intensity of the tensions that run through Susanna's village and the outcome of her actions, which takes place offstage. Ages 12-up. (Aug).
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # 23MA3O00A5OG
Book Description Front Street imprint of Boyds Mills Press, 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX1886910480