Tender Morsels

Tender Morsels

by Margo Lanagan

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

Tender Morsels is a dark and vivid story, set in two worlds and worrying at the border between them. Liga lives modestly in her own personal heaven, a world given to her in exchange for her earthly life. Her two daughters grow up in this soft place, protected from the violence that once harmed their mother. But the real world cannot be denied forever—magicked men and wild bears break down the borders of Liga’s refuge. Now, having known Heaven, how will these three women survive in a world where beauty and brutality lie side by side?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375843051
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 02/09/2010
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 769,973
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Lexile: 950L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

Margo Lanagan’s story collection, Red Spikes, was a Publishers Weekly Best Book and a Horn Book Fanfare, and Black Juice was a Printz Honor Book. She lives in Sydney, Australia.

Read an Excerpt

Liga’s father fiddled with the fire, fiddled and fiddled. Then he stood up, very suddenly.

“I will fetch more wood.”

What’s he angry about? Liga wondered. Or worried, or something. He is being very odd.

Snow-light rushed in, chilling the house. Then he clamped the door closed and it was cozy again, cozy and empty of him. Liga took a deep private breath then blew it out, slowly. Just these few moments would be her own.

But her next breath caught rough in her throat. She opened her eyes. Gray smoke was cauliflowering out of the fireplace, fogging the air. The smell! What unnamable rubbish had fallen in the fire?

She coughed so hard she must put aside the rush mat she was binding the edge of and give her whole body over to the coughing. Then pain caught her, low, and folded her just like a rush-stalk, it felt, in a line across her belly, crushing her innards. She could hardly get breath to cough. Sparks that were not from the fire jiggled and swam in her eyes—she could not see the fire for the smoke. She could not believe what she was feeling.

The pain eased just as abruptly. It let her get up. It gave her a moment to stagger to the door and open it, her insides dangerous, liquid, hot with surprise and readying to spasm again.

Her father was halfway back from the woodpile, his arms full. He bared his teeth at her, no less. “What you doing out?” White puffs came with the words. “Get back inside. Who said you could come out?”

“I cannot breathe in there.” The cold air dived down her throat and she coughed again.

“Then go in and don’t breathe! Shut the door—you’re letting the smoke out. You’re letting the heat.” He dropped the wood in the snow.

“Has the chimney fallen in? Or what is it?” She wanted to step farther out and look.

But he sprang over the logs and ran at her. She was too surprised to fight him, and her insides were too delicate. The icicled edge of the thatch swept down across the heavy sky, and she was on the floor, the door slammed closed above her. It was dark after the snow-glare, the air thick with the billowing smoke. Outside, he shouted—she could not hear the words—and hurled his logs one by one at the door.

She pressed her nose and mouth into the crook of her elbow, but she had already gulped smoke. It sank through to her deepest insides, and there it clasped its thin black hands, all knuckles and nerves, and wrung them, and wrung them.

Time stretched and shrank. She seemed to stretch and shrink. The pain pressed her flat, the crashing of the wood. Da muttered out there, muttered forever; his muttering had begun before her thirteen years had, and she would never hear the end of it; she must simply be here while it rose from blackness and sank again like a great fish into a lake, like a great water snake. Then Liga’s belly tightened again, and all was gone except the red fireworks inside her. The smoke boiled against her eyes and fought in her throat.

The pains resolved themselves into a movement, of innards wanting to force out. When she next could, she crawled to the door and threw her fists, her shoulder, against it. Was he out there anymore? Had he run off and left her imprisoned? “Let me out or I will shit on the floor of your house!”

There was some activity out there, scraping of logs, thuds of them farther from the door. White light sliced into the smoke. Out Liga blazed, in a dirty smoke-cloud, clambering over the tumbled wood, pushing past him, pushing past his eager face.

But it was too late for the cold, clean air to save her; her insides had already come loose. She could not run or she would shake them out. Already they were drooling down her legs. She must clamp her thighs together to hold them in, and yet walk, and yet hurry, to the part of the forest edge they used for their excrements.

She did not achieve it. She fell to her knees in the snow. Inside her skirt, so much of her boiling self fell away that she felt quite undone below the waist, quite shapeless. No, look: sturdy hips. Look: a leg on either side. A blue-gray foot there, the other there. Gingerly, Liga sat back in a crouch to lift her numbing knees off the snow. The black trees towered in front of her, and the snow dazzled all around. She heaved and brought up nothing but spittle, but more of her was pushed out below by the heaving.

She crouched, panting. From her own noises she knew she had become some kind of animal; she had fallen as low as she could from the life she had had before Mam died. Everything had slid from there, out of prosperity, out of town, out of safety, when Mam went, and this was where of course it ended, with Liga an animal in the snow, tearing herself to pieces with the wrongness of everything.

With one last heave, her remaining insides dropped out of her. She knelt over their warmth, folded herself down, and waited to die.

But she did not die there. The snow pained against her forehead and her knees, and the fallen mass of her innards began to lose its heat in the tent of her skirt.

She tried to lift herself off it. At first her knees would not unbend, so she tipped herself forward onto her front . . . paws, they felt like, her front claws. And hoisted her bottom up from there.

“Oh, my Gracious Lady.” Her voice sounded drunken and flat. Between pink footprints, her innards lay glossy and dark red. Her feet were purple, blotched yellow, weak and wet with melting pink snow.

She should go back to the house—that was all she knew. And so she labored towards it, top-heavy, slick-thighed, numb-footed, and hollow, glancing behind as if afraid the thing would follow her, along its own pink trail.

Da snatched the door open as soon as she touched it. He stood there, hands on hips. “What’s a-matter with you?” The air around him was clear and warm; in the crook of his arm, the fire flowed brightly up around the new logs. Would he even let her in?

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Tender Morsels 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
Lawral More than 1 year ago
Brutal does not even begin to cover it. Liga's life with her father is a nightmare. It is clear that she is repeatedly raped by her father. It is not graphically described in the text, but is in the forefront of Liga's thoughts often and so often "discussed." The miscarriages he forces her to have through the use of teas and herbs, on the other hand, are described in graphic detail. The fact that Liga has no idea what is happening to her when she miscarries is, I think, part of why they are described in such detail. Even though she thinks about it often, her mind shies away from the acts her father performs on her. Her shame and self-preservation together keep the detail out of these account. As she slowly comes to realize that the rapes, teas, miscarriages, her monthly blood, and babies are all related, each of these acts in her past are revisited. And things don't even get better after Liga's father dies! Left alone in their cottage with only her infant daughter for company, Liga is gang-raped (again, not graphically described, but not exactly glossed over either) by a group of town boys. This is what finally makes her want to end her own, and her baby's, life. That's the opening of the book. It's hard to read. The first time I checked this book out of the library, I couldn't read the whole thing. Long before the gang-rape and attempted suicide, I returned the book. I didn't decide to check it out again until the Common Sense debacle here at the Barnes and Noble website. Still, I didn't get around to actually checking it out until a few weeks ago. I was determined to get through the horrible parts so that I could see Liga in her heaven, and after reading all of that, I needed to see Liga in her heaven. So many other readers had said that the wretched beginning is worth it once you get to the rest of the story , not to mention that I figured the whole book couldn't be ruined by the opening, given its many awards. It is worth it. The rest of the story is a fairytale. It is actually based on Snow White and Rose Red. Once Liga's daughters are old enough to have personalities, Tender Morsels becomes their story. It is about Branza and Urdda learning who they are as people and learning how to make their own way in what is, literally, their mother's world. Their story is beautiful, and I think the ugliness that preceeds it helps to make it so. Urdda grows up to be the awesomely headstrong and smart young woman that I always look for in book. I want a whole other book full of her, especially once she leaves her mother's heaven. Branza's nice too, but I clearly have my favorite. But here is my dilemma: By the end, I really liked this book and I would love to recommend it, but to whom? I don't agree with the Common Sense rating that was displayed at Barnes and Noble, that Tender Morsels is not appropriate for anyone under 18, but I do think that I may hesitate to recommend it to young adults that I do not know extremely well. That said, this book will have its readers, both teen and adult. Book source: Philly Free Library
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For all the complaints and warnings that this book is graphic, unless my Nook is skipping pages, it is graphic in the way most of Tarantino's movies are graphic-there is the suggestion of brutality and violence, but the bulk of it is happening "out of frame"-and your mind fills in the violence, "witnesses" it, of it's own accord. That said, I found this book incredibly moving, and cried throughout the journey of Liga and her daughters. Healing, finding one's place in the world, and holding on to the things in your life that are good while your heart is breaking were all things that I took away from reading it. The prose was a bit hard to get into at first, but as I devoured the book from cover to cover in about 5 hours or so, obviously not THAT hard. Highly recommended-yes, even for teens, who know or suspect a lot more about the darker sides of life than we give them credit for.
hatter99 More than 1 year ago
I have to agree with everything littleperson wrote.let me tell you for years I was in a pit of despair,unable to break free of its grip but then I found this book.And a miracle happened.I could go on with my life and something changed in me.I just...I can't explain it.Tender Morsels is just breathtaking and I have to say that it is a spark of hope in a dark world. If you don't believe me read this book.Find out for yourself.And experience the most beautiful piece of literary work ever written.Live this book.Taste this book.Become this book.Yes this book.Tender Morsels.
littleperson More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the most beautifully and thoughtfully written works of art ever to touch down on the face of this earth. I live this book. I breathe this book. I feel this book deep within me. How can I better explain Tender Morsels?... Life. Live. Breathe....Tender Morsels.
cories More than 1 year ago
I won't go into the plot points as other reviewers have noted them already. My issue is that after all the trauma Liga went through, I want her to have a happier ending than being acknowledged as a good mother of Branza and Urdda. I think part of the issue is that this book is written like a fairy tale and I expect to have a satisfying ending to such books - not necessarily happy, but at least satisfying. For instance, I like "The Dead-Tossed Waves" by Carrie Ryan, yet another post-apocalyptic, dystopic teen read; the ending is not happy but it is satisfying. This is a book that I would not recommend lightly to anyone and, furthermore, I feel that I would have been better off not to have read it. I don't need to be this upset over a teen book.
fyrefly98 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Summary: Liga Longfield has had to endure more suffering than most 15-year-olds can even begin to imagine: her father keeps her shut away in their cabin in the woods and subjects her to the most horrific physical and sexual abuse. The rest of the world seems no better; after she is gang-raped and impregnated by a group of local boys, she runs away, fleeing with her elder daughter (by her father), and intent on killing herself and the child before either can endure any more misery. Before she can go through with it, she is saved by a glowing moon-bab and sent to her personal heaven, where she can raise her daughters Branza and Urdda in complete peace and safety. However, her isolated heaven cannot last forever... A local mud-witch has accidentally sent a greedy dwarven man into Liga's heaven, and that rash act has weakened the boundaries between fantasy and reality, allowing the occasional interchange between the worlds - most often during the Bear Day festival, when men dressed in bear-skins run through the town, pawing at whatever women they can find and celebrating the return of spring. Even with these incursions, Liga's content to stay put, although her daughters secretly yearn for the wider world. But after living so long in the blissful safety of heaven, how will any of them be able to handle the harsh truths of reality?Review: I loved almost everything about this book, with one big exception. I'll start with the good stuff: First, I absolutely love good fairy tale retellings, particularly ones that recognize the more disturbing aspects lurking in most stories. And, if I wanted a retelling that comes at a familiar story from a completely new (and dark) angle, I don't think I could have done much better than Tender Morsels. The bones of the Snow White & Rose Red story are there, but they're fleshed out in a way that's thoroughly original and yet still manages to maintain an other-worldly fairy tale feeling. The message of the story, too, is one that I haven't seen addressed in fantasy often - or at least not this well. The real world is depicted as so brutally horrible that you can't fault Liga for retreating into her heaven, but the reader is slowly drawn out and convinced of the benefits of living in the real world, even when it's a world in which most people have to struggle to achieve a happiness that they may never find. The writing and the language used throughout is gorgeous; lyrical and lovely and completely in line with the magical-yet-real folktale feeling of the worlds it was creating.The *one* thing that kept this book from being excellent was the length, and the pacing. Stories have a kind of inherent rhythm and pace (and I'd argue this is particularly true of fairy tales.) Read enough of them, and you start to be able to pick out where you are in the story, and roughly how much should be left before the end. During Tender Morsels, however, when we reached the point where I was thinking "Okay, this is about halfway through the story", I was only on disc 4 of 12. And, similarly, we reached the point where I was figuring we were closing in on the end... and it was only disc 9. From there, multiple places where the book could have ended satisfactorily flew past, but instead it stopped abruptly with a scene which didn't feel like a proper conclusion. I think an editing knife could also have been taken to some parts in the middle to improve the flow - for example, the third Bear Day plotline could easily have been sacrificed without affecting the main story at all.I also had a minor problem with the point-of-view jumps. Not with the multiple POV format itself; I think that actually added to the story. My problem was mostly with the audiobook production and readers, who would go from one character's POV straight into another without any demarcation or change of voice, which often wound up being rather confusing.In any case, while the off-putting rhythm a
rachelick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Liga's story is a hard one to read. Reality is not kind to her, and so she creates her own personal haven for herself and her two daughters as they grow up-- but they can't stay there forever. This is a harsh retelling of an already-harsh fairy tale, Snow White and Rose Red; it is also a poignant and compelling portrayal of the process of maturing for the two sisters and their too-young mother. Even the final redemption is bittersweet, but the words spoken are true: reality does not require one to be happy, but simply to be, and happiness sometimes follows. The value of truth over fantasy is made plain. Mature, but well-written and highly recommended.
jenniferthomp75 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the best YA novels of the year. Liga, traumatized by both her father and local boys, develops a fantasy world in which she and her two daughters can live in peace and harmony. However, as the girls grow older, they discover that there is another, "real" world in which they can live. The prose is near-poetic, the characters are beautiful and fully developed, and the story is captivating and unique. Quite sophisticated for a YA novel and not to be missed.
francescadefreitas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
At a moment of great trauma, Liga is given the chance to live ina ne, safe world, where she can raise her daughters without fear. But when others begin to break the boundaries between her cotton wool world and reality, Liga, her daughters, and others are caught in shifting time, space, and even species.(spoilers)This book had everything I love about fairy tales - fantastic events rooted in a believable world, strong female characters, and a feeling of familiarity, but of magic as well. But I just didn't fall in love with it. I found the sexuality entirely disturbing - almost every instance was a violation, even if a violation not recognised by all participants. The character most harmed is punished again, and again, and again, with no happy ending in sight. And I like my fairy tales to have happy ending. I guess the theme of live through the pian, life in pain is better than no life at all is a little harsh for me.I'm not sure who I'd recommend this to - it is well crafted story, and I'm sure it'll find fans.
fromthecomfychair on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
OK, so lots of people think this is a great book. I just couldn't get beyond the incest, rape, and non-consensual abortion, not to mention the fantasy dialog. I just didn't like it at all, and don't think it belongs on the shelves of middle or high schools. So call me old-fashioned!
Whisper1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There are mixed reviews regarding this book. I found the writing good, but the story line was far too troubling, graphic and disturbing for my taste. It is a fairytale retelling of Rose Red/Rose White. It missed the mark. It was interesting enough to keep me reading, but disappointing enough that while I wanted to know the ending, I should have closed the book long before I did.
ohioyalibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It takes quite a lot for me to rate a YA book with 5 stars. I read so many of them, but this one definitely did it for me. I have always loved Lanagan's short stories and it was a real treat to get to read a lengthy novel by her. Her writing is mystical and captivating. You sometimes feel as if you are watching someone's dream drift by on a cloud covered screen. You feel you are being enchanted by the book. This story deals with a young girl who is horribly abused by her father and other young men. She becomes pregnant from this abuse twice. After the birth of one babe, and while pregnant with the other, she is desperate to escape the danger of the world, so she attempts to kill herself and the first babe. But a magical thing occurs and, instead, she and her baby arrive in her dreamworld, the world as she would wish it to be, where everyone is nice and pleasant and does no harm. The second babe is born here and they all spend several years there, but there comes a time when one of her daughters figures out that their world is not all there is and longs for the real world where she can live out her own life and not just make time in the limited world of her mother's dreams. The rest of the book is taken up by the three woman learning to cope, be together and live in a reality that can sometimes be cruel, but that has much bigger rewards than the dreamworld.
jaseD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
To date unfinished. Extremely brutal and disturbing beginning, very descriptive which slows the plot, a reworking of a Grimm's fairytale,
chez_brandi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The writing, plotting and pacing are all marvelous. The author's voice is lyrical and richly textured without being overbearing. The moral complexity of the story is one of its greatest strengths: easy answers are not the best ones. Just beautiful.
bibliovermis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A part of you has always known that behind common fairy tales lie stories of intense cruelty. This fairy tale retelling for grownups, like most of such retellings for grownups, brings that cruelty to the forefront of the story.The story is mainly a retelling of Snow White and Rose Red, with elements of the original Sleeping Beauty (The Sun, The Moon, and Talia). None of the endings are quite as happy as I would have wished for these characters, but it probably couldn't have been done any other way.
rbaech on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Stunning, stark, emotional. One of the most lyrical and rich books I've read in a few years. I bought this for my mom as a birthday present after reading it. Very powerful book. Although of entirely different genres, it reminded me of Barbara Kingsolver's Poisonwood Bible.
sedeara on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I feel like I've talked about this book so much already that it's silly to give it an official review, but here goes:This book starts out so brutal that I found myself wondering if such detailed wretchedness was really crucial to the plot. It turns out that it is, and that it must be juxtaposed against the beauty and peace in the book for you to have a full understanding of what is being offered and withheld. Although this is a retelling of Snow White and Rose Red (something I didn't realize until about halfway in), it's also so much more than that. Like the best retellings, it "makes sense" of the odder tidbits in the fairy tale -- the fact that nothing bad ever happened to Snow White, Rose Red, an their mother, falling in love with bears, and a strange gnome obsessed with treasure. But it's also an examination of what you're willing to give up for safety, and the dangers of choosing an imaginary life over a real one. The writing is absolutely gorgeous, the characters and settings vivid and believable. There is both unbearable pain and unbearable sweetness here, and the book brought me to tears several times. The only thing that keeps me from giving the book a five star rating is the fact that it felt like it went on a little too long at the end; some of the ending sequences felt more like a half-hearted sequel than something integral to the plot. Still, I loved this book enough to stay in it even a little longer than I ought.
Aerrin99 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an odd book, and a difficult one, but also a powerful one. People call it a fairy tale, but other than the quaint fantasyish sort of setting, it doesn't bear much of what I'd call the 'fairy tale feel'. The story is shocking and controversial - a woman gives birth to two girls, one the product of incest and rape, the other the result of a brutal gang rape. Afterwards, some benevolent force in the world carries her away to a place where everyone is kind and friendly and all unsavory aspects of the world have been scrubbed away. The lines between that place and the real world start to thin, though, and eventually Liga and her daughters, Branza and Urdda, must fast it. I spent a lot of time defending this book to a friend of mine while reading it (she hated the premise, hated the characters, hated the 'passivity'), which made me think hard about what works here and what doesn't. To be honest, I didn't enjoy reading it that much. The writing style wasn't to my taste, and for much of the book very little actually /happens/. And it's not a short book. What works for me, though, is the book as an exploration of responses to abuse. Liga spends her entire life hiding from what happened to her by literally creating a world around her that she can control down to the finest detail. She accepts some aspects of her abuse - her two daughters - but scrubs away every unpleasant person, every threat, every dangerous emotion. She survives by locking herself away from anything that could break down her walls, and as the story progresses it becomes clear that even her relationship with her daughters is affected by her need to cling to this control. It's heartbreaking, when taken as a whole. There are no happy endings here. My heart broke at the end. The few times that Liga reaches for healing or forward movement, she fails miserably. It's hard not to take as the lesson that there are some things some people simply never recover from. But there are, at least, her daughters. Both struggle with anger and hurt and betrayal, and there is both fear and a thirst for vengeance. But both also step into the real world in the end and find something worth holding onto. I'm not sure what it all means, in the end. And I'm not sure I liked it that much. But it /is/ interesting. And it is, in places, very powerful.
mamzel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Written in the style of a fairy tale (Snow White and Rose Red), and having some features of a fantasy story, this book manages to incorporate many of the worst story lines possible to throw into a YA book - rape by father, gang rape, bestiality, and gang rape of men by men. That some of these events took place in the fantasy world of the rape victim doesn't lessen the impact of the scenes. When Liga and her two daughters move into the real world, part two of some of the horrors are relived as one of the daughters demands to know about her father (she was the product of the gang rape). The other daughter was blissfully uninterested in knowing who her father was.Touched upon was the conflicting emotions of empathy for the victim and guilt about not acting on the knowledge to protect her. When Liga's father is killed, members of the village swoop in to help her prepare his body for burial, no one comments on the fact that she is very pregnant, It doesn't dawn on anyone that she only came in contact with one man. Even the woman (!) that provides the father with concoctions to abort babies (three times!) prefers the payment she gets to saving the girl from the abuse.Without a doubt, the language is amazing and the mother/daughter scenes are touching. But I have a hard time accepting the amount of horror inflicted on this poor girl in the name of a story. The real fantasy in this story is the serenity displayed by the mother after all that has happened to her.I looked up the reviews from literary magazines for this book and they were raves, without exception. I wonder, sometimes, if critics are too far removed from their audiences to the detriment of that audience. Being a mother, and working in a high school library, I can't think of any type of teen that I could recommend this to.
heathersblue on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Perhaps I expected too much from this book after reading all the great reveiws. I was shocked from page 4 and it just never stopped. I waited for it to pull together as a great piece of literature and it just never did for me. The characters, however, were amazingly drawn and in the hands of the right teen -- I can see it would make an impact. The loose ends are still bothering me...
sjurban on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I started reading this book and was instantly turned off by the rape and incest in the opening chapters. I kept reading though and the story just got stranger and stranger. There are different worlds that have different speeds of time, humans become bears and there was an uncomfortable sexual tension between the human/bears and the women in the story. I wouldn't want my 14 year old daughter to read this book, I feel that it should be classified as an adult book. I'm not a prude, but this book goes a little too far, in my opinion. Even though this book had several "ewww" moments, it was a good story and well written. It read like and old school fairy tale. I have a feeling that this book will pop into my head for many moths to come.
ElaineBooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I rarely if ever choose to not finish a book, but I made an exception for this one. After the first few pages, I told my husband I did not like the book. I needed to read it though because it is a Young Adult novel and I am a YA librarian.After 160 pages of forcing myself to read and it just did not get any better, I quit! I think there were three different worlds intersecting, but I am not completely sure. I read a lot of fantasy and science fiction, so the different worlds was not an issue. They just didn't make sense in this book.I originally picked up the book based on a recommendation from a blog I follow. I wish I could remember which one, so I would know to hesitate before taking another of their recommendations.I rarely react this negatively to a book. At least I can give it the compliment of saying it elicited a strong reaction.
Amsa1959 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is my review of Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan for the AWW 2012 challenge.Scrolla ner, så kan du läsa på svenska.I loved her language. I found it poetic and challenging ( in a good way). I was a bit worried that the violence and the sexuality stuffs I read about in various reviews would put me off, but that wasn´t a problem for me. Certainly there are some violent and sexual parts in the story but the author wash´t too explicit about it I think. Much of it is up to the reader to imagine - which of course isn´tvery pleasant, but it has it´s part in the story.I loved the first half of the novel, but after that I was beginning to feel a bit bored. I lost interest in it and I didn´t got hooked again. I´m not sure though this has to do with the novel. I think it has more to do with me... You know how sometimes a book is read at the wrong time.Nevertheless I´m impressed by her way of writing.There´s been a discussion on this being an YA book or not and I think the answer to that more or less reflect your own view of what defines an YA novel.First, I think that to give this novel the label YA - novel is to diminish it. This is a novel for all lovers of literature, fantasy and fairytales and there is a risk that readers may exclude this from there reading list because of the label and that is a shame. Next, the label YA can (wrongly) for some readers be taken as a guarantee that the novel does not include violent, sexual or other difficult matters. These are issues that many people struggle with not the least young adults so if this is what YA means then this of course is not an YA book.
nnicole on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Teenaged Liga, with a baby by her father and pregnant again by gang rape, can't take any more pain. Magically transported away from her miserable life into a sort of paradise, she raises her daughters in peace and tries to heal.Over the years, her haven becomes a rut. Her world is safe, but it isn't the real world--and the barrier between the worlds is more permeable than Liga thinks. Liga must find the strength to put heaven behind her and forge an authentic adult life.Beautiful retelling of "Snow White and Rose Red" that deals with challenging themes. Liga is strong but flawed: strong enough to survive her hellish early life, flawed enough to pull the blankets up over her head and delay re-entry into the real world. The book has attracted some criticism for a passage, late in the book, that deals out retaliatory rape against Liga's rapists. It is a disturbing passage, certainly, but that's its power: the readers (as well as Liga herself) know by then that, while it certainly harms those men, it doesn't, for all that, accomplish anything good. There is a cruel sort of justice to it, but doesn't erase Liga's assault. She has, by then, grown into a true woman, capable of living an adult life in the real world: stepping forward into the sunlight to say she does have a right to it, does have worth.
lawral on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Brutal does not even begin to cover it. Liga's life with her father is a nightmare. It is clear that she is repeatedly raped by her father. It is not graphically described in the text, but is in the forefront of Liga's thoughts often and so often "discussed." The miscarriages he forces her to have through the use of teas and herbs, on the other hand, are described in graphic detail. The fact that Liga has no idea what is happening to her when she miscarries is, I think, part of why they are described in such detail. Even though she thinks about it often, her mind shies away from the acts her father performs on her. Her shame and self-preservation together keep the detail out of these account. As she slowly comes to realize that the rapes, teas, miscarriages, her monthly blood, and babies are all related, each of these acts in her past are revisited. And things don't even get better after Liga's father dies! Left alone in their cottage with only her infant daughter for company, Liga is gang-raped (again, not graphically described, but not exactly glossed over either) by a group of town boys. This is what finally makes her want to end her own, and her baby's, life.That's the opening of the book. It's hard to read.The first time I checked this book out of the library, I couldn't read the whole thing. Long before the gang-rape and attempted suicide, I returned the book. I didn't decide to check it out again until the Common Sense debacle with Barnes and Noble came out. Still, I didn't get around to actually checking it out until a few weeks ago. I was determined to get through the horrible parts so that I could see Liga in her heaven, and after reading all of that, I needed to see Liga in her heaven. So many other readers had said that the wretched beginning is worth it once you get to the rest of the story , not to mention that I figured the whole book couldn't be ruined by the opening, given its many awards.It is worth it.The rest of the story is a fairytale. It is actually based on Snow White and Rose Red. Once Liga's daughters are old enough to have personalities, Tender Morsels becomes their story. It is about Branza and Urdda learning who they are as people and learning how to make their own way in what is, literally, their mother's world. Their story is beautiful, and I think the ugliness that preceeds it helps to make it so. Urdda grows up to be the awesomely headstrong and smart young woman that I always look for in book. I want a whole other book full of her, especially once she leaves her mother's heaven. Branza's nice too, but I clearly have my favorite.But here is my dilemma: By the end, I really liked this book and I would love to recommend it, but to whom? I don't agree with the Common Sense rating at Barnes and Noble, that Tender Morsels is not appropriate for anyone under 18, but I do think that I may hesitate to recommend it to young adults that I do not know extremely well. What do you think? For those of you who have read this, to whom do you recommend it? Those of you who haven't, knowing all of the horrible things that happen, do you think you ever will?Book source: Philly Free Library