Friday, October 26, 2007

Mouthing the Words - Camilla Gibb

The Basics: Mouthing the Words, Camilla Gibb, 1999, 238 pages, hardcover, winner of the Toronto Book award in 2000

How I found it: I read Gibb's excellent Sweetness in the Belly this summer and loved it, so I wanted to read more of Gibb's work.

What's it about?: Moving the Words is the life story of Thelma, a girl who grows up with in a dysfunctional and sexually abusive home. To help her cope with her difficult life, she has several imaginary friends that stay with her into adulthood. Thelma's story is told from her perspective and the reader gets an inside look into her thought process and the delusions behind her mental illness. As Thelma gets older, she manages to finally escape from her family to some degree and begins to study law. Despite the seriously depressing subject matter, Thelma's story is at times humorous and entertaining.

Did I like it?: Somehow, I loved this book and couldn't put it down. Generally I find that books about sexual abuse and mental illness end up being too depressing or cliched, but that is definitely not the case with this book. Gibb writes beautifully, and at times Thelma's delusional thoughts are almost like poetry. The plot manages to keep things interesting as well. Thelma's experiences and personality are very far removed from my life, or from anyone's that I know, but I still managed to emphasize with her situation.

Will you like it?: I highly recommend this book. It is well written, and is a great read. The dark subject matter could be a turn-off, but I think the black humour found in some parts will more than make up for any depressing bits.

But don't take my word for it: The usual industry blurbs and reader reviews from Amazon, a collection of favourable quotes from reviews on the author's website, and a review from someone named Marty Smith's personal site.

1 comment:

  1. This dark humor in the novel highlights the books well-written words. Together, I would agree, they add a moment of surprise and entertainment. I could also not put this book down. I am not one for serious, or downer books, but this is a very enjoyable book.