A Simple Favor is one of my favorite movies from the last few years. I love quirky crime comedies and the leads have great chemistry. But I also enjoyed how it depicted female relationships, especially in an unconventional manner. A Simple Pod, hosted by three journalists who also love the movie, unpacks this a little, talking about the queerness of the movie and the de-centering of men in its tale.
We Ride Upon Sticks isn’t a crime story but it still hits a similar sweet spot for me. Quan Barry’s unclassifiable novel gets to the heart of female relationships, experiences, and what makes them so powerful in the past and present. The eleven characters she focuses on are richly described; their experiences unfamiliar to a cisman such as myself but appreciable. Rare is the high school novel that doesn’t give me uncomfortable flashbacks but this is one.
Also, as someone who played sports in high school, I appreciate how Quan Barry doesn’t skimp on the field hockey aspect of the story. It’s the string that ties everything together, literally and figuratively. Knowing the ebb and flow of team sports in high school: the bonding, the long bus rides, the wins and losses, the coaches…she makes it all come alive together well enough.
Lastly, there’s the witchcraft or alchemy that makes the Danvers team dominate. Wiccans may be disappointed if they’re coming to this book for familiarity as Barry plays with the concept in an interesting way. I don’t want to spoil anything around it; just know what you’re getting into. The witchcraft is a fun angle but it’s not the reason to read this book.
Overall, this was an enjoyable, humorous, profound, engaging read. Unquestionably, one of my favorites in the new year.