This past week my 11 year old was lucky enough to go to swim camp at Kenyon College. Of course, when we drove up, I wanted to stay, because the campus is magical AND they hold many writing seminars and workshops, sponsored by the renowned Kenyon Review. Kenyon also has an illustrious list of writer alumni, including Laura Hillenbrand (Seabiscuit: An American Legend, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption), E.L. Doctrow (Ragtime, The Book of Daniel, Andrew’s Brain), and John Green (yes, the dude who wrote The Fault in Our Stars). And, the campus is beautiful!
This slice of heaven is only an hour from our home, but it seems like it is in a different world. It reminds me of Hogwarts, in a way, because it is so out-of-the-way and other worldly. In fact, the dining hall was the second choice for the Harry Potter movies. I think the reasons for at are obvious.
So, Kenyon College is magical. I can see why writers escape there. While cruising the campus, I saw groups discussing scenarios and plots (books? plays?), and in general heavy duty writer discussions. I wanted to jump in and embrace my creativity. Unfortunately, I was there to pick up a child, and the other was in tow. Not really an ideal time for creativity.
Swim camp was an incredible experience for my girl. She loved it; she made new friends, worked hard, and learned tons about swimming and all around performance. But this was her first opportunity to visit a college campus, and I think her expectations will be very high from now on. We may have to take on second and third jobs so she can go to school at Kenyon. She’s only 11, so we have time.
Monica Byrne’s The Girl in the Road is an incredible debut novel, a literary force to be reckoned with. Bryne’s speculative fiction crosses into the world of mainstream literary fiction with a wonderfully creative story, using science and imagination to forge a vision of mid-21st century India/Africa to bring us the tales of Meena and Mariama, two girls on journeys to the same time and place. The stories are in their two different journeys; Meena’s as a young woman crossing the Arabian Sea (from India to Ethiopia), Mariyama’s, as a child crossing Saharan Africa to Ethiopia. We learn about their pasts and presents, and it is a literary gift of adventure, discovery, and mystery.
I wasn’t sure about this book when I started reading, but I plugged through. “It’s summer,” I thought, “this isn’t lite summer reading!” But I kept going, and I’m so glad I did. It isn’t lite summer reading, but it’s a wonderful book. I can imagine reading it at the pool or beach, but I wouldn’t want anyone around, it is a book in which you need to (and do) become immersed.
I give this one five stars because it hit all my favorite literary points: It’s written well, it’s engrossing, and it’s somewhat of a mystery that is solved in the most satisfying way. A great read by a new literary force. Thank you Monica Byrne!