I don't often recommend a book on my blog. In fact, Year Zero books aside, I don't think I've ever done so. So it's time I did. Just the once.
Of course, in order to justify a change of policy, there has to be a story behind the story, as it were. So why this book?
Well, I came across Malinda when I was looking for places I could send Songs from the Other Side of the Wall for review. D J Young very kindly recommended I try After Ellen, one of the leading lesbian lifestyle magazines. There I discovered a great article by Malinda on lesbian fiction beyond coming out stories, exactly the kind of thing I'm interested in, as Songs has a lesbian protagonist and is nothing to do with coming out.
Hmm, yes, well what has all this got to do with Ash and how it changed my thinking (and what did I change my thinking about?)
Well, Ash is a lesbian retelling of Cinderella, and rather well done at that. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone interested in young adult fiction. And that's the reason I'm recommending it today. I read a great interview with Malinda about Ash, and the writing of the book, and one thing stood out for me.
Ash began as a work of literary fiction, but over time Malinda came to look at it differently, and began seeing it as young adult fiction, and it's that market into which the book has just been launched.
Now, Songs has a protagonist who's 17/18. And, as soon as I realised the parallels to Muraklami's Norwegian Wood, I started using the phrase "coming of age". But I used it sparingly, fearful lest my use of it mislead people into thinking it was a young adult book. Which it wasn't! It's literary fiction! Just like Murakami, and Coupland, and Brett Easton Ellis.
Only. Well, I know there are lots of people who like the book who aren't young adults (largely, from the response I've had, these are women in their 40s and 50s). But when we started publicising Year Zero, one of the places we went was Suicide Girls, a site frequented by a lot of teenage girls drawn to an alternative/emo lifestyle. And I got some e-mails about Songs. Which made me wonder a little. Sowed some seeds.
And then I read Malinda's interview and I finally realised that the target audience for Songs may just be young adult after all. And what the devil's wrong with that?
So there we have it. Ash, by Malinda Lo, the book that made me see Songs as a young adult book aimed at the alt/emo market. Thank you, Malinda.