As you may have guessed, the movie “16 Candles” plays a rather significant role in this book, shaping the lead character’s view of her life and the world. This is where I must disclose that I’ve never actually SEEN the movie. However, I don’t believe that omission lessened my enjoyment of the book at all. Key scenes are described in enough detail that I almost feel like watching it now would be a waste of time.
“32 Candles” is written from the perspective of Davie – a young black woman who spends her first fifteen years in rural Mississippi. She’s the abused daughter of the local…um…floozy. After a particularly brutal beating at the age of 5 she vows to quit speaking – a decision that hardly makes her loved among her class mates. It’s a vow she keeps until she runs away from her mother’s, and peers’, abuse. She lands in LA under the tutelage of a rough edged but kind(ish) club owner where she blossoms. Throughout the book, there is a common element behind everything Davie does or says. James, the unattainable love of her life, isn’t always at the forefront but the twisted relationships she had with him and his sisters (or the lack thereof) are a constant driving force.
The tone of this book is frank and honest. I often felt as if sitting with a good friend and listening as she confessed her life story. And what a story it is! It’s impossible not to feel a bit of sympathy – and a lot of pride – for Davie. But when “behind the scenes” plots are revealed three quarters of the way through, they reveal a side of her that suddenly complicates those feelings. It’s as if Carter reaches into the soul of every woman ever rejected or scorned and displayed their hidden fantasies. On the surface is a sense of appropriate horror at the revelations. But beneath glows a fierce pride for what Davie does – and sympathy for when things turn ugly in her life. When she comments that she’s been “handed an invitation to Crazy”, it’s easy to nod in complete understanding.
“32 Candles” is definitely chick-lit. I can’t think of any men in my life that would enjoy it. But it is one of my favorite books so far this year. Even the ending – despite being cliché – wraps up the book with a satisfying sweetness. Normally I would have been frustrated with the last few pages but honestly, it works perfectly this time. This is a must read. I’d dare say this is even a re-read.
Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher to review; however, I did not receive any compensation for this review….unless you count the book!