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Posted April 23, 2012
When I first purchased this book for my Writing About Literature
When I first purchased this book for my Writing About Literature class, I was anything but thrilled. I left the bookstore mumbling under my breath, "$15.79... 30 page.... hard cover... children's book." Go ahead and use your imagination to fill in the blanks. I spent the drive home calculating how many tall iced mochas I could have bought instead... or how many McDonald's value meals... or how many gallons of gas. The Hapless Child quickly found a snug spot on my bookshelf between two other textbooks I was not planning on ever actually opening; "The History of Japanese Literature" and "An Abstract View on Analytical Geometry." Inevitably, however, the dreaded day came. When it did, I hung my pride on the coat rack, and gave this little plum book a try.
Roughly six pages in, I realized I had been entirely wrong about "The Hapless Child." Between the easy vocabulary, concise sentences, and large pictures, is a wonderfully gruesome riches to rags story. The inside cover prefaces the book perfectly; "orphaned, mercilessly hazed by schoolmates, enslaved by a brute, [Charlotte Sophia] survives only by the skin of her baby teeth. And then she dies." What a great change of pace from the over-done "happily ever after" plots! It is hard to put into words how something can be demented and enjoyable at the same time. It just is. If you appreciate literary satire, if you get excited over a little bit of darkness, and if you like to be pleasantly surprised, purchase this book. I promise it will be much more rewarding than 3.7 tall iced mochas.
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