Are you keeping up with the chapters, readers? Hope you’ve been able to read along! I’m actually up to chapter 4, but will only be discussing chapter 3 this week. It was hard to stop reading, to be honest.
As usual, this discussion will contain spoilers, so read at your own risk.
A quick comment I’d like to make about the book itself. I really like the “voice” of the main character. I don’t read a lot of books about young adults, but I do read them, and most often the main character’s voice is what turns what could have been a great read into something that’s not. This is because it’s painfully obvious when an adult (the author) is trying to sound like a young person and so the character comes across as inauthentic. It’s the most obvious when it comes to dialogue because you just KNOW a teenager would never speak that way.
So when I was reading this chapter, it struck me that so far I have never once questioned the authenticity of the main character. I had an image of the character in my mind and that image spoke the words I was reading. I’m not just saying this because I was sent the book, by the way. I’ve been given books by authors to review and don’t always love what I read. It’s just nice to read a book about a young adult and have it actually be realistic!
Now, to the substance of the third chapter:
Oh, dear, I wanted to SCREAM! Iris can’t catch a break! Right away, we see that her “friends” have replaced her with someone named Lydia. I’m not surprised – her friend group didn’t seem all that caring. While yes, Iris did isolate herself, I think that true friends would give Iris her space and also express concern for her. Instead, they gave up and tossed her aside. I’m curious to see what happens with her now ex-friends; if any of them have a change of heart at some point in the story.
After realizing her friends dumped her, Iris is upset. Unfortunately, this happens right before her last final of the school year – her English test. Before the test begins, Iris takes out her private journal and begins jotting down names. As soon as she began her list of “PEOPLE I WANT TO BASH WITH MY HAMMER” and then adding her terrible English teacher to her “PEOPLE I WANT TO KILL” list, I knew she was going to get found out.
This scene was one of the highlights of the book so far – it happened quickly, but was nerve wracking! Iris made a big mistake in keeping her journal on her lap during the English final. Her teacher saw it and became suspicious, demanding that Iris hand the notebook over. I understand that to an outsider, such a list would send off warning bells. But as the reader and someone who “knows” Iris, I knew that writing out the lists was just a process of venting out her anger and frustration; she’s not actually going to kill anyone!
Ugh, but that was just the beginning of Iris’ troubles! She’s charged with violating California law. Her dad is of no use – of course, he’s too busy with work to really care about the mental well-being of his daughter. Iris’ babysitting job for the summer disappears; the children’s mother doesn’t feel it would be right to have Iris babysit, given what happened.
All in all, this seems to be when Iris hits her lowest point. We’ll see what happens in the next chapter, when Iris faces the consequences of her list.
That’s it for now. Next week will be Chapter 4!
Please comment below or reach out to me on Twitter to let me know if you are reading along or if you have any thoughts on this post! I would love more interaction with my readers!
Strays: A Novel can be purchased directly through Ashland Creek Press.
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