Going Bovine

Libba Bray, 2009.  I would never have picked up this book if it hadn’t won the Printz.  It just sounded too intentionally wacky, which I dislike.  Sentences like this one from the jacket flap turn me off: “With the help of Gonzo, a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf, and a yard gnome who just might be the Viking god Balder, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America of smoothie-drinking happiness cults, parallel-universe-hopping physicists, mythic New Orleans jazz musicians, whacked-out television game shows, snow-globe vigilantes, and disenfranchised, fame-hungry teens into the heart of what matters most.”  Eh.  Give me a decent character study and a clean-lined plot any time over a goofy ensemble cast…although I do like a good road trip.

I didn’t expect to finish the book, but instead I roared through its 480 pages in a couple of nights. It’s basically a coming-of-age story, and it does have sort of a wacky cast, but Gonzo is a strong and believable sidekick, and Balder is so cute and endearing!  And the smoothie cult is pretty hilarious. I could have done without the parallel-universe sideshow, but it was fine really. I guess what I’m saying is that most of the wackiness was far from extraneous.  I guess what I’m really saying is that I liked the book.  A lot.

And I didn’t expect it to be gay!  But it so is.  There are hints early on, when a trio of stoners keeps talking about female hotties, although one of the trio is named Rachel.  But then, in a twist I really didn’t see coming, Gonzo comes out of the closet!  I’d assumed he was written as mostly asexual because so many characters with disabilities just are, but no – gay all along.  Kudos, Libba Bray.

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3 Responses to Going Bovine

  1. Kris Iltubrid says:

    Most people with dwarfism do not consider themselves to be disabled. I haven’t read the book so don’t know if this is your point of view or the author’s. I’m guessing the latter from reading your description of the book, given the side-show element. It doesn’t sound like she hangs out much with Little People.

  2. Daisy says:

    You’re right, Kris. And it was my term, not hers. I was trying to make the point that people with bodies that differ from the perceived norm are generally viewed as sexless by many people. I’m not sure how to word that better – ideas?

  3. susan says:

    I keep saying I’m going to read this but I was put off by the same things that put you off but if you ended up liking it, I’m more willing to give this a go. Thanks.

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