First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
In a small Mississippi town, Harriet Cleve Dufresnes grows up in the shadow of her brother, who – when she was only a baby – was found hanging dead from a black-tupelo tree in their yard. His killer was never identified, nor has his family, in the years since, recovered from the tragedy.
For Harriet, who has grown up largely unsupervised, in a world of her own imagination, her brother is a link to a glorious past she has only heard stories about or glimpsed in photograph albums. Fiercely determined, precocious far beyond her twelve years, and steeped in the adventurous literature of Stevenson, Kipling, and Conan Doyle, she resolves, one summer, to solve the murder and exact her revenge. Harriet’s sole ally in this quest, her friend Hely is devoted to her, but what they soon encounter has nothing to do with child’s play: it is dark, adult, and all too menacing.
And it is the weekend again! Happy Friday everyone! Just like how I ended the work week, I hope that you are diving into the weekend after completing the work week on a high note. I hope that you were all able to accomplish everything you wanted to accomplish at the start of the week. Sure, there are hiccups but that is part of being an adult, a working adult that is. I hope that we spend the weekend resting and recovering. I hope you all have fun. As we enter the last third of the year, I hope that the rest of the year will be kind and gentle to everyone. I hope that your prayers have been answered and that all you worked hard for in the past months will get repaid. I hope you are doing well, in your body, mind, and spirit. I hope everyone will stay healthy amidst the threat of COVID-19. On another note, since it is the weekend, it’s time to ditch those work clothes and don more comfortable clothes. I hope you all enjoy the weekend and that you are able to rest well.
Before I can dive into the weekends, let me close this week with a First Impression Friday update. I am in the midst of immersion into the works of American literature after spending the past two months navigating Japanese (July) and Asian (August) literature. I have realized I have been lagging behind on some of my reading goals this year. As the year moved forward, I got waylaid, hence, I have been making very little to no progress in most of them. Thankfully, there are still three and a half months to reorganize my priorities in order to meet all my 2022 reading goals and challenges; as such, I have been reading works of American literature for September as most books on these lists and challenges are within the ambit of American literature.
A staple of my annual reading journey is my Top 20 reading list – 22 for 2022 – a tradition that I have started back in 2017. At the start of the year, I listed 22 – corresponding to the last two digits of the year – books from my current pile that I will make sure to read during the year. One of the books that are part of this aforementioned list is Donna Tartt’s The Little Friend. My first encounter with Donna Tartt is rather memorable. While on one of my random trips to the bookstore, I purchased a copy of her 2014 novel, The Goldfinch. This was despite the fact that I barely had any iota on what the book was about nor have I ever heard of Tartt. What attracted me to the book were its length (it was thick) and the fact that it won the Pulitzer Prize (literary awards, despite my lack of knowledge then, were strong selling points). I ended up liking the book which led me to want to read Tartt’s other works.
However, it has been almost five years since I read my last novel by Tartt, her debut novel, The Secret History. With this at the back of my mind, I included her sophomore novel, The Little Friend in my 2022 Beat the Backlist challenge and the aforementioned 2022 Top 22 Reading List. The Little Friend is also my third novel by Tartt; by the way, she has written three novels in her career so far, with the last one being The Goldfinch. To be honest, I had no idea what the book has in store for me when I started reading it. The first things that captured my attention are the book’s length and its rather small font; the book is more compact than I thought so it will take me some time to finish it.
Like in the case of Tartt’s other works, I just let myself be embraced by the story. The story started on a rather bleak note. In the prologue, the story introduced the death of a nine-year-old boy named Robin. He was the only son and the eldest child of the Dufresnes, a white family living in Mississippi. He was found hanging from a tree in the family estate called Tribulation in what appeared to be a suicide. This took place during Mother’s day in the mid-1960s. The bulk of the story, however, happened over a decade after his death. His two younger sisters, Allison and Harriet have now grown into young teenagers. Harriet, in particular, was more headstrong than her older sister. Harriet was smart, even having childhood memories of her brother’s brief life.
Harriet, seen as a difficult child, was particularly drawn to the story of Robin’s life. It was she who also started toying with the idea that her brother was murdered. She was skeptical of the original story of Robin taking his own life. She then started investigating, persistently asking her aunts about their memories of that fateful day. In the process, Harriet, from what I can surmise, was also unraveling her matrilineal history. We read bits and pieces about the Cleves, a once prominent family that was ruined by Harriet’s maternal grandfather (a judge). Helping Harriet was her friend Hely Hull, a boy younger than she is. Yes, her friends were comprised of younger boys who admired her spunk and tenacity.
From what I have read so far, the book will revolve around these two storylines: first, the mystery around Robin’s death, and second, the Cleves’ family history. Honestly, with the doll on the book’s cover, I was expecting it to be eerier or something occult- Chuckie comes to mind – especially with the opening pages narrating the death of a young boy. But with over three hundred pages more to go, I am curious about how Tartt will spin this web of tales. From her previous works, she does have the tendency to meander. It is also something that I expect with The Little Friend. But maybe because the story also has some elements of coming-of-age? I will see. But if there is something about Tartt’s prose I like, it is her inimitable talent for description.
How about you fellow reader? What book or books are you taking with you for the weekend? I hope you get to enjoy them. For now, happy weekend! And as always, happy reading and take care!