Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi
Ohhhhh Helen Oyeyemi, what is not to love? I had been eagerly anticipating Gingerbread since the Fall and was so excited to get a copy from Riverhead Books! Thank you!
When I start reading a book by Oyeyemi, I know it will be unexpected and I anticipate a weird and slightly strange story. Gingerbread did not disappoint! It is truly a unique book with nods to classic fairytales abounding. Oyeyemi has the ability to turn a phrase or write a description that will make you go back and reread because you swear you read it wrong. Are the vines on the curtains really growing at nightfall? Do the dolls actually have living plants growing in their chest? And they are talking, yes? This is what I love most about any story Oyeyemi writes, nothing is as it seems and a simple sentence can turn the scene you had pictured in your head upside down.
Parts of this story, about half way through, I had trouble keeping up with. Mostly when a lot of new characters were introduced. I had a hard time keeping everyone and their relationships to each other straight at first. I feel like this section of the story was a bit too slow for me and then all of a sudden it picked up again towards the end. I actually reread the last few chapters to make sure I grasped what was happening with the three houses and Gretel.
Am I sure I know who Gretel is, now that I've finished the story? No. Do I understand her purpose? No. Were the two girls in the photos actually Gretel and Harriet in some future or past time? I do not know. AND I LOVE THAT I HAVE THESE QUESTIONS. I really do. I could reread this book and probably pick up answers and also have ten more questions.
Helen Oyeyemi writes the kind of stories we don't see often and it is always such a joy reading them.