I was first introduced to Robert Cormier in a Young Adult Literature class back in 2006. We read The Chocolate War, which, while dated, was a compelling and interesting read. I based my personal blog title off of T.S. Eliot’s poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” which the protagonist quoted in the novel. Cormier understood the issues of young male sexuality and power struggles well, and The Chocolate War highlighted these proficiently. Therefore, I was eager to read more Cormier. I picked up Fade at a book sale and finally dived in.
One cannot capture lightning in a bottle every time, and for me, the magic of The Chocolate War did not translate to Fade. The story itself is rather intriguing: a teenaged boy finds out he can “fade” or disappear and thus stumbles upon many disturbing secrets in his local town, all while his family’s power struggle in the local factory unfolds. His family is Quebecois in New England, so there is a cultural dynamic at play, as well.
But, my friends, there were just so many elements that made me shudder. First, let’s talk about twincest. I AM SO TIRED OF IT. It’s in this book, and it just didn’t do anything for the plot. And this boy is obsessed with his aunt. In a sexual way. It’s all the worst things about white man literary fiction in a book for teenagers. And I can’t even.
In short: read The Chocolate War. Or I am The Cheese. But not this one. Cormier tries to tackle sexuality, and in my opinion, falls short with weird sexual hangups that left me, a female reader, cold.
Cross-posted to my blog.