Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block
Twitter, you'll know about my odyssey through Francesca Lia Block's body of work. More often than not, I'll write tiny reviews on Twitter for the Young Adult titles I'm reading, but Block's newest novel (pub. date August 27, 2013) was a beautiful read that could be enjoyed by adults and young adults alike.
In the recognizable style of Block, Love in the Time of Global Warming tells the story of a North American (possibly global) apocalypse with plenty of magical realism. It's a modern-day pastiche of Homer's Odyssey, but instead of a war leading main character Pen (née Penelope) to her journey, it's the swelling of the Pacific Ocean that rises over her California home, robbing her of her family, friends, and comfort*. Fearing the worst has happened to her parents and brother, Pen hides out inside her pink family home until the vicious world outside barges in, disrupting her fear and forcing her to flee into the desolate wasteland around her. She quickly learns that the worst post-apocalypse terrors aren't other humans. After all, how bad are humans when giants, sirens, and witches abound? Pen doesn't travel alone, surrounding herself with a ragtag posse of outcasts who somehow survived the flooding and the fires and the flesh-eating giants. The posse intently searches for Pen's family with clues delivered by a harbinger, a mystic and of course, the Odyssey itself.
The allusions to the Odyssey are admittedly obvious, with pertinent passages being read almost immediately after an encounter with a Homeric character and a member of Pen's posse making an unsubtle statement pointing out how their life reflects the Odyssey. For someone unfamiliar with the epic poem, I can see these moments being helpful in drawing the necessary ties between Block's and Homer's work. (Block might have benefited from watching my favorite take on Homer, O Brother, Where Art Thou... generally though, everyone would benefit from watching it; it's awesome.) I found myself wishing the direct quotations would stop, but they didn't really detract from my enjoyment of Love in the Time of Global Warming. Block's prose is lyrical as ever and I'm nothing if not a sucker for magical realism. It's available in print throughout the catalog. Give it a read and stop by to talk about it!
- Abby, Reference Librarian
* Here, I should point out that the title is a little misleading. You'll have to read it to understand why, but global warming is not discussed in much depth at all.