Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I first started reading Laura Kasischke when I only knew her as a poet (one of my favorites). I then moved on to read her dark novels, charged with the gripping language of her poetry. So I was intrigued to recently learn that she has since traveled into Young Adult territory and has published two YA novels. I finished the first one last night.

Boy Heaven is the story of three girls who go to cheerleading camp and run into a couple of boys from the "wrong side of the tracks." Kasischke is so good at capturing a mood and engaging her reader, someone would have had to wrench the book from my hands if they wanted to take a peak. Pages turned in front of my face so fast, I nearly got a breeze. Oh, all right, not really, but the book is immediately gripping and creepy. It's also indicative of what I love in light reading - a wicked, lusty, death-fueled joyride taken by teenage girls camping out in the wilds of some unamed state on a body of water called Lovers' Lake.

Boy Heaven plays on urban legends, ghost stories told around camp fires, and blossoming womenhood juxtaposed with death. That reedy dude, the Grim Reaper, is hiding behind every peeling birch tree.

If you like juicy, fun reads peppered with eerie and beautiful language, Boy Heaven is for you.

Here's are a couple small excerpts from the book:

She looked terrible. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail that looked painful. It was just a fat red rubber band, I could see that, and I winced when I thought of how much it was going to hurt to pull that thing out before she went to bed -- or, worse, in the morning, after all the little strands had worked their way around the rubber. She had no makeup on at all, and, without it, I could see that her eyelashes were not black, after all, put pale red, lighter than her hair. Her lips looked chapped. And she smelled like sweat. "Those boys," she said. "They're watching us from over there."


The sun had all but set, just a deep pink glow over the other end of Lovers' Lake, and it lit up the pine trees like arrows. Only the other Kristi was looking in my direction, and she seemed to be gazing far across the lake, not noticing me at all, looking for those boys. So I stepped up to the edge of the water, and although I'd been warned a million times not to, I knelt down and cupped my right hand under the surface of it and drank from it -- the coolest and freshest water I'd ever tasted, or would ever taste again. I stood up just then the first blast exploded from the other side of the lake, and looked. It was like a huge slippery rose in the sky, shimmering before being ripped into a million pieces, being turned into burning tears and earrings, and drifting down from the darkness onto the surface of the lake, where it sizzled and writhed for a moment, then disappeared.

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