Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Mixed Experience of Rereading The Secrets of Peaches

There are a few spoilery thing in this post. So just be aware.

In rereading The Secrets of Peaches, it took quite a while for me to fall into the story and be reminded of just why it is that I love this whole series so much. This book, at least in the first half-ish, moves much faster than the first book and Anderson's incredibly lush writing takes a backseat during this time as so much happens with Birdie's family and her relationship with Enrico, Leeda and her mother, and Murphy's boyfriend (Rex) and plans to escape to NYU. I was frustrated quite a bit with Murphy and Leeda during this installment and was very glad when things started falling into place once again, falling into the familiar rhythms that I loved from the first book. Still, The Secrets of Peaches is very much a book about things falling apart -- Murphy and her plans, Murphy and Leeda, Birdie's family, Leeda herself -- than it is about things being put back together. And I feel like the only way to talk about this book is to maybe just list the things I liked and didn't like:

Murphy - LIKE. But I got annoyed with her even though I understood why she made the decisions she made. She's pretty manipulative here, and even if it was sort of a defense mechanism so she wouldn't end up (more) hurt, it still really bugged me. I love that Birdie called her out on how cruel she can be.

Leeda - UM. I like Leeda. I love Leeda. Everything with her mom is so harsh and painful in this book. Leeda's whole Ice Queen routine got old though, and like with Murphy I just wanted her to show that she had feelings.

Birdie - LIKE. Birdie is just the best in this book. I just love her.

Murphy and Rex - DIDN'T LIKE. I don't really remember what I thought of these two the first time I read the books, but this time around I just found myself so not caring. Rex is the sort of bland character that I just can't muster up much feeling for. He's supposed to be this really great guy and in some ways he is, but mostly he's just like BLAH and his relationship with Murphy being portrayed as true love never really hit home with me.

Leeda and her mother - LIKE. As much as I hate Leeda's mom, their storyline in this book was all but perfect.

Birdie and Enrico - LIKE. Honestly, it wasn't until a good way through the book -- when Birdie goes to visit Enrico and his family in Mexico -- that I realized how much I love these two. They're quietly perfect for each other.

This is a quiet book and it's part of a quiet series, but the emotions and decisions within it are so huge and so real. I think reading it now I have a different perspective than I did the first time I read it, even though it was only four years ago. I think I see more easily how immature these characters act at certain points during the story and even though it makes sense I still found myself wanting them to just fix things already. For a huge part of the book Leeda and Murphy are fighting and I kept wanting to yell at Leeda to just talk to Murphy and stop avoiding her, but at the same time their stand-offish fight was so real and heartbreaking that even when I didn't like how they were acting, it made sense to me in a weird sort of way. It might not be how I would act (or at least, not how I'd want to act), but I understood why they would.
There was nothing [in the notebook] about the times that Murphy and Leeda hadn't liked each other, when they had still been mostly strangers. There was nothing about the times they had wounded each other or broken each other's hearts. (The Secrets of Peaches, pg. 156)

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