02 July 2021

Notes on 'The House of the Scorpion'

Farmer, Nancy. The House of the Scorpion. Atheneum, 2002.

Judging by the book cover, The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer must be brilliant. The Newberry medal has always been a sound guide for me when it comes to picking out Young Adult fiction. (I don't 100% believe in awards, but they do serve some purpose.)

In the front cover is a Newberry Honor seal along with a National Book Award and a Michael L Printz Honor. I would've ignored these accolades, given the not-so-attractive cover art, and return the book to its place in the shelf, if not for the back cover endorsement by Ursula K Le Guin.

Farmer doesn't have Le Guin's evocative language and profundity (a comparison is uncalled for, but forgive my knee-jerk reaction). She does have an ambitious sense of scale, though, plus the ability to hold your attention with a good plot, pace, and enough characters to care about — and hate.

Writers are rarely successful in developing a character that would elicit varied emotions from the reader, or maybe they don't just try; but Farmer has done it and everything else so well that I am now on the hunt for the sequel, The Lord of Opium.

Some underlined bits:

She was overflowing with life. Everything delighted or devasted or fascinated her. (p 212)

Friendship was a pain, Matt thought. All these years he'd wanted friends, and now he discovered they came with strings attached. (pp 311 – 312)

Mi abuelita said I mustn't be afraid of skeletons because I carry my own around inside. She told me to feel my ribs and make friends with them. (p 351)

If you have read the book and would like to talk about that death, my socials are open.

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