The Foretelling by Alice Hoffman

Read: 25 September, 2008

I bought this book on a whim. I had never heard of it or of the author, but Chapters was selling it for pennies, so I figured it was worth the risk.

I’m glad I took the chance. It’s a great book. It breaks several of the cardinal rules of writing (telling instead of showing, for an obvious example), but it does it well. The story is interesting and fast-paced, making it a quick read. It would have had to have been hundreds of pages long had Hoffman tried to cover the same amount of ground by “showing,” and I do believe that she made the right choice.

This is obviously a Young Adult novel, but it deals with several mature themes such as sex (both consensual and non-) and war. However, Hoffman treats these subjects as “facts,” without dwelling on them graphically as some authors do. These are just part of Rain’s world. This is not to mention the tough concepts of love, responsibility, compassion, being one’s self, feminism/patriarchy, etc. that are brought up. They are handled in a way that would be acceptable for a young teen or tween to read, while also serving the purpose of opening discourse on such subjects.

This isn’t to say that the book was perfect. There are times when I would have liked certain areas to be explored more deeply. The ending, for example, tells of several important and life-altering events taking place without, I felt, giving them due consideration. The book works, but I feel that it might have been improved a little by slowing down the narrative pace at certain moments and describing certain events in more detail. I also would have liked a context: as the novel is written in the first person, it would have been nice to know who Rain is telling her story to.

Still, these are very minor complaints to a book that, overall, was a very enjoyable rainy-afternoon read with an uplifting message.

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