Thursday, December 13, 2012

book review: Glaciers by Alexis M. Smith

The basics: Alexis M. Smith's slim debut novel, Glaciers, focuses on Isabel, a young archivist who grew up in Alaska and now lives in Portland, Oregon. She adores vintage stores and the abandoned objects she finds and collects from those stores.

My thoughts:  Glaciers is a quiet, introspective little novel, and Isabel is a quirky delight. She has a charming sense of wonder coupled with disappointment:  
"Her sister read that spiders have book lungs, which fold in and out over themselves like pages. This pleased Isabel immensely. When she learned later that humans do not also have book lungs, she was disappointed. Book lungs. It made complete sense to her. This way breath, this way life: through here."
This combination feeds into her sadness for the objects she treasures, both personally and professionally. Her work fixing damaged books in the library's basement emphasizes the hope: these things are broke, but they can be fixed and shared once again. Similarly, when she discovers postcards sent to others at thrift shops, she seeks to give them a new home again.

Glaciers is a novel that made me slow down my reading and take in the world as Isabel does: "Isabel remembers this amusement from the last visit, as well. The woman seems ready to be pleased with the world." There's a beautiful thoughtfulness to Smith's detailed writing here.

What's fascinating about this novel is Isabel herself. If you're looking for plot, you won't find much in the first half of this novel. If, however, you want to enter Isabel's curious world, and read beautiful, thoughtful prose, Glaciers is for you:
"It’s a strange product of infatuation, she thinks. To want to tell someone about mundane things. The awareness of another person suddenly sharpens your senses, so that the little things come into focus and the world seems more beautiful and complicated."
Favorite passage:  "Change was inevitable, but she could not imagine what the future might look like, or what her place might be in it. All she could do was hope she did not end up in a shoe box at a Salvation Army Thrift Store."

The verdict: Glaciers is a quiet, contemplative novel with a delightful, fresh voice. Much of the novel is unassuming, but the impact of the ending will resonate with me for some time.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Length: 112 pages
Publication date: January 17, 2012
Source: purchased

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy Glaciers from an independent bookstore, the Book Depository or Amazon (Kindle version--it's only $3.99 this month!)

 As an affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!

10 comments:

  1. I'm so excited about picking this one up. Sounds completely different than any other titles I've read this year. I've seen nothing but good reviews so that's a good sign.

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    1. Beth, I think you'll like it. It's very unique--and a fast read, even when you slow down to take it all in:-)

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  2. Looks like you've had some good reads lately! I saw this on someone's best of the year list as well.

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    1. Yes! I've had great reading luck lately. At the end of the year, I focus on 'books I've been meaning to get to', and last year and this year my reading has been awesome at year's end. It makes me think I should start doing it all year!

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  3. Oh good. Glad you liked this one. I picked up a copy at the library. It's on the list to be read...someday.

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    1. Ti--I'll look forward to your thoughts on this one when you make time for it!

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  4. You did a great job reviewing this novel, because while some people might find it boring, you made it sound like a slow, moving novel that is enjoyable. I haven't read it, but you make me want to!

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  5. Loved this one, it made my best of 2012 list.

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    1. I'm so glad to hear someone else loved it too! I'm quite curious to see what Smith writes next.

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. Happy reading!