July 01, 2009

Review:Serpent in the Garden of Dreams

Serpent in the Garden of Dreams
by Robin Messing

Tildy Glick was a girl obsessed with her love for her mother. Everyone else had to be excluded or was seen as a threat. But Tildy learns the limits of her mother's love the summer she turns 13, the summer her parents split up and her mother starts a fling with a married man. Fast forward to Tildy as an adult. Her obsession with love is now directed toward her boyfriend. His breaking up with her is a trauma that she cannot get over. Over the course of a year she learns to be okay with herself without someone to love obsessively.

If that summary seems uninspired it is because I was left uninspired by this book. I feel that I have given it enough of my time already(one whole week to read a 166 page book!) and it wasn't worth it. I did not connect with Tildy's pain. The reason for her obsession with her mother was unaccountable. I felt bad for the way the younger Tildy was treated by her family but I didn't care a wit for the grown Tildy. Grown Tildy was whiny and childish. She considers her boyfriend dumping her to be a trauma for which she cannot recover for a whole year even though he didn't seem to care much for her in the first place.

The narrative voice was different from younger Tildy, in the third person, to older Tildy, in the first person. Then there was the part that was supposed to be Tildy making an audio tape of her memories about her and her boyfriend. These were supposed to be lyrical(the author is also a poet) but they felt forced and didn't match the personality of either Tildy. The imagery in this last part was confusing when it was meant to be expressive.

While I didn't find much to like inside or outside of this book, like that awful cover design, I did really like the title and the quote that it was extracted from; a quote not written by Ms. Messing. But I still can't figure out what the serpent is in the garden of Tildy's memory. Tildy never realises, at least not in so many words, that her mother is a self-centered attention whore. Grown Tildy never sees that she is really the same as her mother. I never saw where Tildy recognises any betrayal. There is no betrayal since Tildy has set herself up for disappointment by setting her mother on a pedestal. Her mother never promised to be her everything.

I didn't hate this book; I just didn't care for anything in it.

This was my first challenge book for the Take a Chance Reading Challenge, the random book selection. I picked this book from the library using an arbitrary set of instructions that I devised for myself (the centermost book from the centermost shelf in the fiction section). I wish it was more successful but you can't win them all. Next up is either Tuck Everlasting or Tethered.


bermudaonion said...

Well, I think I'll skip this one. Thanks for the review.

Zibilee said...

Sorry this one wasn't great. I don't think I would have liked it very much either, it sounds like the main character was pretty hard to relate to and not very realistic. Thanks for your honest review.

C. B. James said...

I do not know Tethered but Tuck Everlasting is very good.

Hope you enjoy whatever comes next.

Jenners said...

This doesn't sound very good ... especially if you can't understand why she would be obsessed with her mother! Too bad this one didn't work out ... hopefully the rest of the books in this challenge will work out for you.

And I agree -- if it takes a week to read a 166 page book, that is a clear warning sign the books isn't that good. And if you get another clunker, it is OK to give a go but then quit ... no use wasting your time on terrible books just because of a challenge! Thanks for playing along.