It’s time for another Standalone Sunday! SS was created by Megan @bookslayerReads and I highly recommend doing it! It’s a great way to recommend books to people. I wanted to do it fortnightly so this is my second one!
Author: David Vann
Publication Date: March 5th, 2015
Genre: Young Adult; Contemporary; LGBT+; Dark
For this Standalone Sunday, I’ve chosen Aquarium by David Vann. This was a really random choice for me but it’s a book that’s stuck with me ever since I read it. The reasons I chose this novel are:
1. Surprisingly Dark: This novel gets dark very quickly, which was something I wasn’t expecting from a YA novel, especially this one. You really feel for Caitlin, the protagonist who looks back on her 12 year old self, as she suffered abuse at the hands of her mother. It was a tough read for me but a pretty rewarding one overall.
“I had never seen this violent side of my mother before. It was terrifying, as if someone else had been living inside her all along, some darker self. I didn’t feel safe.”
2. LGBT+ Representation: I was also surprised by the LGBT+ representation in this novel, as young Caitlin has a secret relationship with her school friend Shalini. And it’s not ‘just a phase’!
“It was the most perfect love I’ve ever known. No one will believe that, because we were too young, but we were absolutely there, not partially gone as adults always are. I had all of Shalini. Nothing was withheld. And she was far above me, in class and family, intelligence and sophistication and knowledge and beauty, and we didn’t yet consider those things, and I couldn’t yet feel inadequate in the adult way, really, even in the terrible shame of that day. And so nothing in me was withheld either.”
3. Vann’s Writing: It’s quite simplistic writing but the novel is loaded with aquatic-related metaphors which I thought were really cute! Caitlin loves the aquarium and her descriptions of the fish (with accompanying images) were really fun to read.
“I can see myself in the fish”, my grandfather said, “but not in the crabs.”
Me either. Those tiny eyes on stalks have nothing behind them. And that mouth. You can’t call that a mouth. It’s just more legs. […]
“You’re right that it’s the mouth,” he said. “If it had lips, we’d feel closer to it. All we need are eyes and lips, apparently, and we think we can say hello. I don’t think I realized that before, how much we need the world to look like us.”
4. Depiction of Poverty: Caitlin and her mother have little to no money, and this poverty is a pretty significant factor in this novel. Caitlin is painfully aware that the only thing she really has is her mother, and that fact is one that terrifies her.
“I’ve never believed the rich are unhappy. I think they close their doors on us and then can’t stop laughing.”
I really enjoyed this novel when I read it, it took me completely by surprise.
Have you read this novel? What were your thoughts? And what is your Sunday Standalone novel? Let me know in the comments!