Tuesday, 22 April 2014

"A Solitary Blue" - Cynthia Voigt

The third book in Cynthia Voigts Tillerman Cycle is the first one I read, and by far my favourite.  As much as I like Dicey Tillerman, Jeff Greene interests me far more.

The book doesn't pull punches, and starts straight off with Jeffs mother, Melody, walking out on him as a seven-year-old.  What follows is Jeff learning to live with a father he never really identified with before (the Professor), learning about love, and most importantly, learning about who he is.  In the first part of the book, you don't get a sense of who Jeff is, which almost put me off the book.  He's a shadow in his own life, trying to hide himself, trying to be what everyone else wants him to be - out of the fear that if he doesn't, his father will leave him too.  The only time you get a glimpse of life from the boy is when he visits his mother one summer, but even then what you see isn't true.

Jeff really comes into his own in the second part of the book, after he decides his mother doesn't love him.  After withdrawing into himself more than ever, Jeff becomes someone.  He's a smart kid, a bit shy, a bit cheeky, who values his friends (Brother Thomas, Phil, Andy, Mina and especially Dicey and the Tillermans) and loves nature.  He's laid back (just like his father) and has a power about him where he can read peoples emotions (just like his mother). 

It's an interesting conflict.  At first glance, one might look at Melody as the antagonist and Jeff as the protagonist, but really, there is no antagonist or protagonist.  Jeff simply has to learn that there is a part of him that comes from his mother, and a part of him that comes from his father, and he has to reconcile those two parts of himself together.

It's also interesting how Jeffs implicit conflict compares with that of his future fianc√©, whose conflict is definitely explicit.  In the first Tillerman book, "Homecoming", Dicey and her three siblings James, Marybeth and Sammy, are abandoned by their mother and forced to walk from Provincetown, Massachusetts to Crisfield, Maryland to find family to take care of them.  In later books Dicey has to deal with more implicit conflict of her own, including having to deal with her siblings becoming more independant of her in "Dicey's song" (I hear you sister), but most of her conflicts are with what happens outside her - moving her siblings to her grandmothers home, dealing with new friendships at school, and her boating business ("Seventeen Against the Dealer").

I love Cynthias work, and I reckon every teenager/young adult should read her work, especially the Tillerman Cycle.

No comments:

Post a Comment