Madapple

Madapple

by Christina Meldrum

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375851773
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 03/09/2010
Pages: 416
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.06(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile: 670L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

Christina Meldrum is a former attorney who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Madapple is her first novel.


From the Hardcover edition.

Read an Excerpt

Gnaphalium

Life Everlasting

Bethan, Maine October 1987

The women resemble schoolgirls with gangly limbs, ruddy cheeks, plaited flaxen hair; they walk holding hands. Yet the older of the two is pregnant; her unborn baby rides high and round. And the younger woman’s left foot scratches a path through the leaves. She seems comfortable with her limp, accustomed to it.

A child darts before them, chasing leaves that swirl at her feet. Her dark hair, tied back in a scant tail, whips behind her. She stumbles, catches herself. “Mor!” she calls out. “Mommy!” Then she points at a bird perched high on a leafless branch, its plump breast berry-like against the low sky.

The older woman hesitates before she recalls the bird’s name. “A robin. The bird is a robin. Soon it will fly south for the winter. It is too cold here in Maine.”

“Men det er ikke koldt. But it is not cold.” The child’s words are malformed; she is not yet three.

“Ikke for Danmark,” the woman says. “Not for Denmark. And certainly not for you, but you are not a robin.”

The robin jerks its head to the side, then back, before it takes flight.

“The robin was looking at you,” the child says to the woman with the limp, not her mother. “He wanted to know your name.”

“I’m Moster Maren, little Sanne. Aunt Maren. Have you already forgotten?”

“Yes!” The child laughs and sprints forward; her laugh is discordant, but the wind carries the sound away, and the woman, Maren, is grateful.

“Sanne reminds me of you when you were small,” the child’s mother says to Maren. “Do you recall what Fader called you? Gnaphalium, remember? That plant known at home as ‘life everlasting.’ You were so full of life.”

Maren stops walking.

“What is it, Maren?”

“Don’t go back to Denmark, Sara. Stay here with me. Please. Your marriage is ending—you know that. And with Moder’s death, there’s little keeping you. And I can help you. We’ll help each other.”

Sara frees her hand from Maren’s grip. “Fader is still in Denmark. And I told you before, I don’t need your help.”

“Yes, Fader,” Maren says. She reaches toward a plant and runs her index finger along a scar on the fleshy rhizome of the plant. “Solomon’s seal. This plant’s name is Solomon’s seal. See, the mark here. It resembles the seal of King Solomon, the Star of David—the symbol Solomon used to cast away demons, summon angels.”

Sara lifts Maren’s hand from the stalk and turns Maren toward her. “Tell me what’s wrong,” Sara says. “This isn’t about me. Why did you ask us to come? You said you were leaving Denmark to start a new life, but now you want to bring your life in Denmark with you here?”

“I want you here. And Sanne. And your new baby,” Maren says.

“But why? What is wrong? Is it something about Fader?”

“Don’t tell Fader.”

“Don’t tell Fader what, Maren?”

“I’m pregnant, too.”

“Mor!” the little girl calls out. “Løb efter mig, Mor!” Sanne runs down the path; trampled leaves cling to her scarf and hair. “Chase after me, Mommy!”

“You are pregnant?” Sara says, but she looks at her daughter and the gray sky and the leaves.

“Don’t be angry with me—” Maren says.

But Sara interrupts. “I didn’t even know you knew about such things.” She is fondling her own hands as her eyes search Sanne’s hands, but Sanne’s hands are a blur. “You’re so young, Maren. Maybe you’re mistaken.”

“I’m a robin.” Sanne’s arms stretch wide. “I can fly!”

“I’m almost sixteen,” Maren says. “I’m not that young.”

“But you’ve been in the States for less than two months. How could this happen in such a short time?”

“I’m four months pregnant,” Maren says. “Three months less than you. I was pregnant before I arrived.”

“Mor,” Sanne says. “I’m flying away. I’m flying south.”

Sara wraps her arms around herself and begins walking again, toward Sanne. She can see Sanne’s hands better now: her fingers splayed, and those two webbed fingers not splayed. And she wonders. And then she says, “Before you arrived? But how can that be? I didn’t even know you had a lover. I’ve been like a mother to you since Moder died. How could you have not told me?”

“I didn’t know.”

“Didn’t know?”

“I didn’t know I was pregnant. I found out the day I asked you to come.”

“But you knew you’d been with someone. You had a lover, Maren. And you didn’t tell me.”

“I’ve flown away, Mor.” Sanne has reached the end of the path. “I’m gone forever.”

“But I didn’t have a lover,” Maren says. “I’ve never had a lover.”

Solomon’s Seal

2007

—Please state your name for the record.

—Aslaug.

—And your last name?

—I don’t know.

—You don’t know your last name?

—No.

—Your mother’s name was Maren Hellig, was it not?

—Yes.

—You are Aslaug Hellig?

—Mother called me Aslaug Datter.

—So your last name is Datter?

—No. I mean, I don’t know. Datter means “daughter” in Danish. I’m not sure it’s my name.

—What was your father’s name?

—I don’t have a father.

—You don’t know who your father is?

—I don’t have a father, other than the one we share.

—You mean God in heaven?

—I never said God is in heaven.

—But you mean God, am I right?

—Yes.

—Well, I’m referring to your biological father. You don’t know who he is?

—I don’t have a biological father.

—Your Honor, the witness is being nonresponsive. She’s being tried here for one count of attempted murder and two counts of murder in the first degree, and she’s playing games—

—Do you have a birth certificate for the witness, Counsel? It seems that document may clarify this matter.

—She has no birth certificate, Your Honor. At least none we’ve found.


From the Hardcover edition.

Reading Group Guide

1. Maren teaches Aslaug that “science describes the world; it doesn’t explain it.”(p. 16) Describe Aslaug’s world. Discuss how Maren and Aslaug’s lifestyle is especially disturbing to outsiders like Lens Grumset, a neighbor who feels that they may be into witchcraft. How might Aslaug explain her world to outsiders? How is Aslaug unprepared to deal with the outside world that she seeks after her mother dies?

2. Aslaug has a troubling relationship with her mother. At one point, Maren asks Aslaug if she is plotting to fly away. Discuss how living in isolation makes Aslaug more interested in discovering the outside world. Why doesn’t she run away? Trace Aslaug’s search to understand her mother, even after Maren’s death. Describe Aslaug’s reaction to her mother’s death.

3. The details of Aslaug’s birth are mysterious. Why won’t Maren identify Aslaug’s father? Draw a parallel between Hester Prynne, the main character in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Maren. Why does she hide the book from Aslaug? Debate whether Aslaug, like Pearl in The Scarlet Letter, is a symbol of shame and a punishment for her mother’s sin.

4. Maren teaches Aslaug many languages. Explain the irony in Maren’s belief that “the more languages you learn, the more free you will be in your thinking.” (p. 58) Discuss what she means when she says, “Words oversimplify reality.” (p. 58)

5. Sin, knowledge, and the human condition are themes in The Scarlet Letter. Discuss these themes as they relate to Madapple.

6. Maren claims to be an atheist. Yet, she spends hours studying the Torah, the Kabbalah, the Koran, and the Bible. What is she searching for?

7. Sara and Maren’s fader was a botanist and mythologist, “interested in what he thought was the interweaving of nature and the divine.” (p. 165) Explain his influence on Maren. Sara felt that her fader’s interests were “misguided.” Contrast her beliefs with those of Maren’s. Debate the good and evil in Sara’s chosen life. How might Aslaug’s experiences with two trials and a complicated life on the “outside” affect her religious views? Discuss whether she is likely to find that place where science and religion meet.

8. Trace Aslaug’s search for identity before and after her mother’s death. Explain what Rune means when he says to her, “But your context may become your prison.” (p. 245) At what point does Aslaug miss her mother? What does Aslaug mean when she says that Maren was her “Artemis”? (p. 307)

9. Discuss the structure of the novel. How does the trial keep the reader engaged in Aslaug’s story?

10. Explain the title of the novel.

Customer Reviews

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Madapple 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 59 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
I finished reading MADAPPLE last night and, for the first time ever, I sat staring at the book in shock. For fifteen minutes. I was ready to laugh, to cry, and to scream in frustration. Never before have I read a book that left me feeling that way after finishing it. Sure, there have been books where I've laughed, cried, and been frustrated at different points as I read it (HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS comes to mind) -- but to experience them all at once at the end of a book? Never.

Once the shock wore off, I began wondering how I was ever going to write a review of this book. Because a book that can cause emotions like that definitely can NOT be summed up in one paragraph, no matter how long. I could say that MADAPPLE was about flowers and plants. I could also say that it's about a girl who's a prisoner in her own life. I could also say that it challenges the religion of Christianity. I could say all of those things and so many more, but none of them would be correct. Yes, MADAPPLE is about flowers and plants. It's also about being a prisoner in your own life and it's even about Christianity. But it's also about so much more than that. More than even my mind can comprehend.

But I must warn you - MADAPPLE is NOT for everyone

Told in alternating chapters of the present and of testimonies being held at Aslaug's trial, MADAPPLE challenges the reader. It informs the reader. I, myself, though not a strong Christian, know by now that most Christians are offended when their religion is challenged. MADAPPLE does that. But I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing, for it never states that Christianity is wrong, and every single character has their own opinion on it. Heck, one of them even runs a church. But what it does do is explain how the birth and story of Jesus that the Christians follow is not the first in history. I'm not going to say more on that subject in fear of giving too much away, but I'll say this - if you're a Christian who is easily offended, I wouldn't read this. If you're a Christian who can handle a reasonable amount of things, pick up the book.

My feelings about MADAPPLE changed throughout the entire book. At first, I was intrigued, then confused, and then bored. Actually, I think I was confused up until the last page and then some. Even at this moment, I can't say whether I love or hate MADAPPLE. But I'm going to say that I love it because it's left me speechless, and the only other books to have done that are my favorites. The one thing, however, this book didn't do was make my stomach hurt. The character emotions just weren't there to make my heart break. All other aspects, besides that, which I love in books were there.

So do I recommend MADAPPLE? Definitely yes! But only if you're up for a challenging read. Only if you're mature enough to handle speculations about virgin and premarital birth. Only if you're ready to be blown away, because you will be, whether it's in a good or bad way. Only you can make that decision.
hayley lown More than 1 year ago
This is one of those books that can truly change you life. It is simultaneously vibrant and sad as it takes you on a journey where love is not always perfect or understood. This only maks it all th more real and keeps you fighting to hold fast to what you thought you knew only to realize that it might not have been so real after all. Beautifully written and with truthul and enigmatic characters this is a must read.
harstan More than 1 year ago
After leaving the home of her sister, martinet Maren Hellig raised her daughter Aslaug for over a decade locked away from the contamination of the outside world especially her aunt and cousins. Instead she teaches her daughter that there was no man in her life even to sire her as she is a product of the divine Immaculate Conception. She teaches her to enjoy nature and books. Without knowing better, Aslaug is contented with her world until her mom abruptly dies.---------- Alone, frightened and a suspect in Maren¿s death, Aslaug moves in with her Aunt Sarah, who was estranged from her mom, and her cousins. A social misfit, Aslaug struggles to survive in her new scary world. However, when another death in the family occurs, Aslaug is arrested and put on trial for the two homicides.------------------ This is a deep character driven young adult thriller that hooks readers once they have met Maren and Aslaug with the need to know did the teen commit matricide. The story line is character driven obviously by Aslaug, but also by her extended family. Secrets slowly are revealed to a stunned audience. MADAPPLE is a deep family drama in which the seed does not fall far from the tree, but truth may not set her free.--------------- Harriet Klausner
francescadefreitas on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I know this book is excellent - it is beautifully written, it doesn't have a clichéd moment in it, and the story is both well-paced and thoughtful. But I found it very difficult to read (or rather, listen to,) I had to put it aside several times, disturbed by minor events to the point of nausea. It speaks to the power of the characters that I was unable to distance myself from the story enough to read it comfortably. I would give this to mature teen gothic fans, and adults looking for atmospheric mysteries.
justablondemoment on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Aslaug is kept very isolated from society by her mother who claims she is a miracle brought into this life from a 'virgin birth'. As the story progresses Aslaug's mother dies from illness and she is thrown into an unknown world to her. A world where she is believed to have committed arson,murder and begins to question her own sanity as her own miracle is put up to trial. Weird book!! Good in a way that is hard for me to review. While alot of the parts of the book I could have done without , the lessons in botany for example, I don't think the book could have been told without them. As this was Aslaug's life, it's what she knew. Being sheltered and reared by her mother in a homeschooling environment where the main focus was on science, history, mythology, legends and religion. Her whole life was plants and flowers. They were used in nourishment as well as medicine. So, there was no way to take these 'lessons' out of the book, as it was so much a part of the story. But those sections bored me so. The rest of the book clipped along for me. And at the end I was glad I stuck it out. It wasn't a OMG that was so good book for me, as others have found it, but, it was thought provoking
Euphoria13 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
For the first time, i just can't seem to find the words to summarize or explain what this story is about because it was just... WOW. I think i can start off by saying that i am VERY SURPRISED that this book is actually a teen book because it has A LOT of MATURE content within it. There was so much going on in this book that i don't think a young teen (13-15) could understand half of the story. Madapple is not your average story. I have to admit that Christina Meldrum really put a lot of effort in writing this story because it's very different from any book that I've ever read, she did a lot of research for this book and her writing is deep. Madapple is a story that challenges human nature, religion and identity.The story is mainly about Aslaug on trial, accused for the death of her Mother, Aunt, and Cousin. The story also shifts time periods, it goes from the present with Aslaug in court then into Aslaug's past, with her narrating her story. In the past, the reader learns of Aslaug's life with her mother. They lived in isolation, away from people and their advance way of life. Aslaug and her mother lived in a simple matter,collecting different plants and herbs to use for many things, such as food and medicine. Aslaug's mother teaches her about everything. Religion, science and health are a few of the main topics that Aslaug learns from her. But there are a lot of things, ideas and questions that Aslaug doesn't fathom, such as her birth. Her mother never mentioned anything about her father, let alone that she even had a father. Her mother believed that Aslaug's birth was a virgin birth. It is this sub plot within the story that will definitely challenge the reader's belief if they are religious or if they are Christian. I'd like to point out that if you are either one of the two, then this book is NOT FOR YOU. You might get offended because this book really challenges the Christian Faith. I'm a Christian and i admit that i felt uncomfortable reading this book because of how it views the Christian religion. On a good note though, i have to give credit to the author for writing such a refreshing yet bone chilling story. Aslaug's story is shocking and tragic. You will find yourself angry, sad, curious, and confused reading this story. This is exactly why this review was a bit difficult to write because there is a lot to this story both emotionally and plot wise. I would recommend reading this book if you are looking for a book to pull you in the moment you start to read and if you are looking for a different kind of story to read, something that does not involve cliche's or trends within YA literature.
miyurose on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This was a sort of bizarre story. Madapple takes place in a Maine I don¿t really recognize. Aslaug and her mother live in almost complete isolation in what I presume to be in-land Maine (which, believe it or not, is far different than coastal Maine), living off the land and eschewing all modern conveniences. Aslaug is barely allowed to read, let alone go to school, go shopping, or watch TV. Before her mother¿s death, she doesn¿t even know she has family living very nearby, and she discovers them rather accidentally. Whether or not this is a good thing is best left up to the reader.We learn rather quickly that Aslaug is on trial for not only the death of her mother, but for burning down the church where she lived and some people inside. I enjoyed the structure of the novel as it bounced back and forth between the past and the present, revealing tiny pieces of the puzzle along the way. Things the reader assumes early in the story turn out to be far from the truth.The author connects each chapter from the past with a particular piece of botanical knowledge. I learned about a lot of plants that I never knew existed, but sometimes there was a little too much detail when really, I just wanted to get on with the story.Overall, I thought this was a really interesting book. It¿s not light, and it¿s not happy, and it touches upon not only the relationship between religion and science, but on the relationships between mothers and daughters, rape, incest, and abuse. If your book club can get past the fact that it¿s technically a young adult book, I think Madapple is a great novel to stimulate discussion.
kayceel on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Hmmm. This one was fascinating, though unsettling. Meldrum writes beautifully - lyrical and mysterious and meticulously. Aslaug - the main character - is decidedly strange, and at times unsettling, though with the upbringing she'd had, her strangeness is no surprise. I was fascinated by the talk of religion, and how the basics of Christianity - the Messiah, the virgin birth, the twelve disciples, etc. - all have their roots in so-called "pagan" religions, but less enraptured by the endless talk of plants and herbalism, though Meldrum does a wonderful job of intertwining all the ideas.
jenniferthomp75 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
A thought-provoking, excellent debut novel by Meldrum, "Madapple" tells the story of Aslaug, a girl raised in near isolation in the woods of Maine. After her mother dies, Aslaug moves in with relatives who run a church and have some interesting ideas about Aslaug's birth. Religion, science, knowledge of plants and fantasy vs. reality all play a part in the book. Entwined with a mystery, "Madapple" is one of the most fascinating, unique reads of the year. Highly recommended.
spartyliblover on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I started trying to listen to this, but found the alternative chapters being flashbacks very confusing. The plot seems to run ahead of it self in the chapters from the court trail vs. the chapters that seemed to be telling the story. I spent much of book being confused and was not satisfied by the ending. The book is about a young girl who is raised in almost complete seclusion from society with her mother. Her mother teaches her sciences and mythologies and leads her to believe she has been immaculately conceived. After her mother dies she finds her aunt and cousins that she never new existed and must find the truth in her life. Overall this book had potential, but I found it to flow poorly and felt confused most of the time.
hoosgracie on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Interesting mystery featuring flashbacks to what happened and the protagonist's trial.
welkinscheek on LibraryThing 5 months ago
For most of Madapple, I was wondering what genre I was reading, figuring out about half way through that I was reading a mystery, and the story didn¿t wrap up until the very last pages. This book made me feel uncomfortable, but not necessarily in a bad way. It¿s mysterious genre combined with the insane perspectives of each characters left me squirming and wondering, like Aslaug, what is fact and what is fiction. It felt like a good representation of how people can get lost in their own worlds, and how it is possible to love and be loved by people who abuse you extraordinarily. This is a good, gothic tale, and though it left me cold and a little frustrated, a can see the appeal for another reader.
ElizaJane on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Aslaug has been raised by her mother in near isolation in a rural area with only one nearby neighbour. They spend much of their time gathering plants and Aslaug knows the properties of every plant in the area. They eat what they forage, nuts, seeds, roots, grains and teas. Then Maren, Aslaug's mother dies and Aslaug finds relatives she knew nothing about and she moves from one kind of isolation to another. She learns the secret of her birth, her mother's insistence of her virgin birth and as each family secret is uncovered the reality becomes darker and more horrendous. As the book opens we find Aslaug on trial for a double homicide.This is an immensely deep and powerful book. It reads as a modern dark fairy tale. There is an ethereal quality to the story which feels as if it comes from the same place as one's dreams or nightmares. Religion plays a big part from controversial topics and theology of the Essenes to the pagan beginnings of Christianity to waiting for the return of the Messiah. Darker topics of child abuse, rape and incest add to the potent force of the book.I was hooked from the first chapter. The short court scenes that alternated with the lyrical narrative propelled my reading along and I found it very difficult to put down. This is quite unlike any book I've read before. I wonder if perhaps it's a bit deep for a YA book and would hesitate to recommend it for under 16s but otherwise highly recommended.
kmaziarz on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Aslaug was raised in relative isolation by her intense, severe, intelligent mother Maren. Homeschooled, unknown to any family she might still possess, unacquainted with anyone other than a secretive neighbor, Aslaug is naïve and innocent about the workings of the greater world. Raised in a mirror-less home, she barely even knows the shape of her own face. What she does know, however, is plants. Herblore, herbcraft, which plants are good to eat, which plants are poison, which are medicine¿all of this colors Aslaug¿s view of the world, informing her understanding of events unfolding around her. When her mother dies, therefore, Aslaug reacts in a way appropriate to her upbringing, but not so very appropriate in the eyes of the law. When released into the custody of a social services professional, Aslaug manages not only to escape, but to find her way to a place she¿d only been once before¿the evangelical Christian church run by her aunt. There she discovers something else shocking: her mother Maren claimed to have been a virgin when she became pregnant, and her cousins Susanne and Rune believe that Aslaug herself is a blessed child destined to birth the next Messiah. Soon, swept up by their fervor¿so similar and yet so different from that of her mother¿Aslaug herself is uncertain what she believes or who she really is. Told partially in flash-backs, and interspersed with testimony from Aslaug¿s eventual trial for suspected murder, this enthralling and deftly suspenseful story is also beautiful and poignant. Meldrum manages to give a delightful new twist to the old coming-of-age story.
aangela1010 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
OMG! This book was so well written and the plot was riveting. It is for older young adults since it deals with sex. I really enjoyed the different alternative religions that are brought in to the plot.
knielsen83 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This book went back and forth between the life of a girl who was brought up far differently than the rest of the world and the trial she is standing. The trial itself is a bunch of questions and answers, some causing the reader to ask more questions about what really happened in this girl's life and why she is on trial. It was really quite a captivating read, making you want to learn more and giving a few twists to keep you on your toes. I sort of figured out what really happened with the hints, which was a nice feeling that I could pick up on that. That the author left you some clues. I loved the imagery of this book and the feeling of a girl meeting the modern world for the first time. Overall, I couldn't put this book down - I read it in a day.
chibimajo on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Told in alternating chapters between Aslaug's past and the present in a courtroom transcript, we learn how Aslaug lived with her mother, who claimed she had been born a virgin birth. There was sporadic homeschooling out of books her mother edited, harvesting of plants for food and an otherwise strange existence. Eventually, her mother dies of cancer and Aslaug relies on one memory from her past to bring her to her aunt's house. She's searching for her father, but finds an aunt and two cousins instead. There Aslaug keeps trying to find who she is and where she comes from, especially after she somehow becomes pregnant too.
kpickett on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Aslaug had been raised by her mother the near isolation of a small town in Maine. The two sustained themselves with through the forest behind their home and only ventured into town for rare supplies. Aslaug's mother taught her everything about religion, mythology, biology, and botony. She was her life, until her mother unexpectedly died.Now Aslaug is on her own, with no friends or family and no understanding of how the outside world works. She discovers her long lost aunt who is a preacher at a small rural church. While staying with them Aslaug discovers that her mother suspected that Aslaug was a virgin birth. As Aslaug uncovers her mother's and her own past, she discover's things about the family that she never wished she knew.This is a crazy, mindbending and amazingly written book. I could not believe how well organized the story was and how much I learned to love characters that had no obvious redeeming qualities.
samtheteenlibrarian on LibraryThing 5 months ago
The cover of Madapple looks very intriguing but the contents are messy overkill. After finishing this book, I'm having a very hard time seeing where the rave reviews come from.Aslaug has spent her early life isolated with her sick mother who is so off-balance that she even tacks sheets over the windows to keep the light out. When she wakes to find her mother dead, an attempt to give her a proper burial leads to her arrest. Though cleared of any wrongdoing, Aslaug finds herself completely lost- she has never met any family and doesn't even know who her father is. She follows the only clue she has: a building in the next town over that her mother used to drive to and stare at. She takes with a car with no mirrors and a suitcase full of hidden money to try and find her family. Lucky for her, she does end up with family- her aunt and two cousins who run a small church. They take Aslaug in and through her cousin, Sanne, and her mothers notes she finds out about her mother's supposed "virgin birth" and her interest in a variety of ancient religions. Asalug also begins to get close with her other cousin, Rune, having vivid and intimate dreams about him. After several months living with them Aslaug begins to feel ill- a trip to the doctor reveals that she is pregnant though she does not remember having intercourse. Is Aslaug following in the steps of her mother?Okay, so in a summary it seems like it could be interesting. But really, this story is so very disjointed! The chapters alternate between Aslaug's first person account of what happened and a trial.The story is working at you from both ends in reverse directions but I feel like it gets more muddled than intriguing. Meldrum is an attorney and it shows through a little too clearly; the courtroom drama is very lawyer dramatic but not very teenager dramatic under the very last moments. I don't see Aslaug as a character that teens can easily latch onto unless they're really into ancient religious sects or botany- this is partially due to her isolation, but this is not a book that discusses an isolated girl's transition into the modern world. Instead, it is an outsider transferring herself into another group of outsiders that teens also will find it hard to relate to. I wouldn't recommend this for anyone under 16- the language is dense, the courtroom parts somewhat confusing (I say this as a former law student!), and the issues are heavy (multiple degrees of incest, drug use, poisoning, teen pregnancy, death, kidnapping, a communal family- the list goes on and on). I did not find this to be an easy read on any level- it was hard to get into. It's definitely different from other books that were published last year, but I don't necessarily think that translates into accolades. Perhaps I'm alone on this one!
eyeluv2read on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This mystery jumps from a present court case where Aslaug is the defendant in a double murder case and the past where she remembers her childhood with her single mother and then later her single aunt and two cousins when her mother dies. Her mother was into homegrown drugs while her aunt is a pastor and her cousins deal with their own problems. By the time Aslaug meets her aunt and cousins, she has already been cleared in the death of her mother, but when she is found outside the burning church where her aunt and Sanne are found inside dead, she is put on trial and the death of her mother is again brought up. My first problem was the neighbor witness in the court case who thought he needed to use expletives while answering questions on the stand. Until the latter half of the book, they are minor expletives and infrequently scattered through testimonies. The real problem begins about 3/5 of the way through where Aslaug dreams about her cousin Rune spending time with her after being drugged by her cousin, Susanne (Sanne). When she turns up pregnant, she accuses Rune of rape and worse expletives are scattered throughout the remaining pages. While I found the book on the YALSA site, I cannot recommend it.
MrsBond on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Aslaug lives a sheltered life with her mother. She is thrust into a world she knows nothing about when mother dies. Hoping to find her father, Aslaug instead meets her long lost cousins and aunt who run a church. Commonly accepted Christian doctrine is challenged throughout the text, mainly by cousin Sanne who believes that Aslaug and her mother have been given a special gift from God. Chapters alternate between Aslaug's inner story and the outer story that comes out during a murder trial. Bibliography of additional reading on the topic of religion included at the end.
booksandwine on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Madapple alternates between the narration of Aslaug, the protagonist and a court trial. Aslaug is on trial for the murder of her aunt and cousin. This book blends religion, science, mythology and botany. It almost seems Meldrum is trying too hard to weave separate elements, but I think she suceeded in creating a story which left me consistently guessing. I think part of the beauty of this book is the revelation of the story. We don't learn everything about Aslaug at once, it's revealed little by little. Also Meldrum was awesome in that she did more showing then telling, and I certainly appreciate that in a book.Meldrum's voice is distinct. In the parts which were told through Aslaug's eyes, it was like seeing the world through a new lens. Aslaug was raised in isolation, so clearly she's got a different world view than us internet-denizens. I think this was definately a unique YA reading experience. I would not recommend this book for the middle-grade/younger YA set as it contains some very dark and disturbing themes. However, if you are looking for a break from the usual who-hearts-who fare, check this book out, you won't regret it.
calmclam on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I found this book to be interesting, engaging, and suspenseful, but I thought it frequently dragged (get to the point already! was my constant thought), and the court sessions--there to provide tension and foreshadowing--broke up the action in an irritating way. Also, I think there is a point when we can safely say "There is too much incest here".But my biggest problem with this book was when the main character turns up pregnant. She has a vague memory of sleeping with her cousin, which she thought was a dream; upon realizing it really happened, she (correctly) identifies it as rape. So far so good. But then it turns out that her male cousin didn't drug her, her female cousin did! He just slept with her while she was drugged (keep in mind that everyone else in this book can tell when people are high). Somehow this makes everything okay, so she and the male cousin go to live happily ever after. I was disgusted.
LynnSigman on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Long story - satisfying ending - too much detail on plants.
baseballgeek on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I was so engaged by this novel. The protagonist, Aslaug, brings us into her secluded world of mystery and intellectual exploration. She explores complex religious questions, experiments with medicinal plants, and comes to terms with her own sexuality as she grows into a woman. The people surrounding her are interesting and driven by complex, often hidden, motivations. Contrasted with her subjective description of this private world are intermittent scenes from her subsequent court trial for having destroyed that world. The reader is gradually drawn into the personal mysteries (such as who is telling the truth and what are their motives) and universal questions (such as the inadequacy of "objective" truths and the origins of Christianity) raised by this book. Once you start, it is difficult to put it down.