January 15, 2008
Book Review: Beige by Cecil Castellucci
Beige is an amazing read. When I started reading the book, I didn't think I was going to be able to relate to any of the characters. The roster contains Katy, our narrator, who let's face it, is one of those typical teen girls who never sticks up for herself and represses all her feelings, keeping them bottled up until she explodes. I hate characters like that. Then there's the free-spirited mom, totally oblivious to her daughter's pain. There's the father who never grew up. And then we have Lake, who is one of those people that thinks "really original" can only mean one thing and goes around insulting everyone who isn't punk.
But Castellucci treats her characters with a velvet glove. You get inside their heads and see the true heart through the rough edges.
Katy is going to spend the summer with the RAT, her punk rocker father who is the drummer for a once infamous band named Suck. She would much rather be in Peru with her free-spirited mother, excavating caves and stuff.
The Rat lives in a hovel hole of an apartment and is totally wrapped up in making Suck live again. He bribes the daughter of Sam Suck, Lake, into "baby-sitting" Katy during the day. Lake thinks Katy is totally boring and beige. Katy quietly goes about her business, biding her time until her Mom might call and say it's time to go home. But when that call gets delayed, Katy has to survive on her own in a world that feels foreign. Katy spends her days listening to the musical hopes of Lake and being schooled in the way of the punk.
The book is about Katy creating her own version of original and sticking to it. I was very happy that she didn't just become punk. She learns the Sam Suck punk mantra, but she doesn't just jump on the bandwagon. And she comes up with her own way of making music.
The best think about Beige is that you could hand this book to so many teens. Your razor-edged teens will enjoy the punk scene, while more conservative minded teens will relate to Katy's feelings of being an outsider in this environment. I think guys will enjoy it, too. Each chapter lists the name of a band and song that teens could listen to while they are reading the book.