Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Goose Girl

Poor Shannon Hale. I think the most frequent comment I've heard about her as an author is, "She's LDS and like Stephenie Meyer, doesn't write LDS fiction."

I'm not sure it was a good enough reason to check out her book, Goose Girl, but I did it anyway. My sister, Jen, liked this book and that was one more reason, but a good enough one for me.

It was a nice break from some of the meatier stuff I've been reading. It's not meatless, exactly, but written as a fairy tale in the voice of a young princess so it's about as meaty as Chicken Noodle Soup.

There are some worthwhile themes throughout the book. Ambition, gifts, honesty, work. The princess, whose name was blessedly shortened to Ani for most of the book, lacks the power of persuasion that her mother, the Queen, possesses. The author calls this gift "People Speaking" and while Ani doesn't possess that particular gift, she does possess the rarer, and less esteemed "Animal Speaking" and later "Nature Speaking" gifts. She can talk to swans, as a girl, and later, while in hiding when her lady-in-waiting pulls a coup during their journey to meet her betrothed, learns to speak to the geese she keeps. Ultimately, she uses these gifts, especially her ability to talk with wind, to restore her place as Crown Princess, leaving us with the lesson that we can rely on the gifts we possess to accomplish what is necessary. I think. At least, that's what I'm taking away from it. A la....To Thine Own Self Be True without all the fancy talk.

Those elements create the fairy tale, as well as all the prince and princess stuff, but this felt surprisingly modern to me. There were times the dialogue seemed appropriate to the time of the story, but most of the time, I heard the voices of young, spoiled American teens in my head, especially when the ruthless Selia spoke.

In any light, Goose Girl is an easy read, with some sound moral backbone - as fairy tales usually have, but isn't incredible literature - as fairy tales usually aren't. But sometimes, it's nice to simply read a good story. Goose Girl is that.

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