class issues

[[ Prime ]] Tender MorselsAuthor Margo Lanagan –

I have to admit that the thing that first attracted me to this book was the wonderful cover art However, for once, it appears that I was right to judge a book by its cover Tender Morsels is a retelling of the Snow White and Rose Red story and, as fairytales go, it is decidedly of the Brothers Grimm variety, dark, vivid and brutal, so do not expect it to be full of sunshine, rainbows and unicorns When we meet the main character, Liga, she is 13 years old, living with her father in a lonely hut at the edge of a dark forest and she is having a miscarriage, though she is not yet capable of understanding what is happening to her In very short order, we learn that Liga is being raped by her father and see her suffering through a number of miscarriages induced by concoctions purchased by the father from a local mudwife , giving birth to a child resulting from the repeated incestuous rape and then being raped again by a group of town boys Unable to deal with the trauma of her experiences, Liga attempts suicide but is rescued by a magical moon babby and granted her own version of heaven, where she and her two daughters the second being but a foetus in her womb at that stage can be safe The main theme of this book is one of sexual violence, the effect it has and the process of coping with, surviving and healing from it Liga s coping mechanism is denial She escapes to an imaginary world where nothing can harm her, everything is pleasant and even her feelings themselves are muted to a point where she cannot feel any strong emotions at all But the real world cannot be avoided indefinitely and by ignoring what happened to her, Liga is unable to effectively deal with or move past her experiences Her world is a safe cocoon, devoid of anything dangerous or unpleasant, but it is also a fake world, devoid of real people or emotions and while it shields Liga from harm, it also means that she is unable to fully experiences life s joys How soft had been her life in that other place, how safe and mild And here she was, back where terrors could immobilize her, and wonders too where life might become gulps of strong ale rather than sips of bloom tea She did not know whether she was capable of lifting the cup, let alone drinking the contents As a parent, I found this theme of living in the real world and facing up to all of its aspects, good and bad, and the damage that over protecting and cotton wool wrapping can do very interesting Lanagan s message is quite clear you are a living creature, born to make a real life, however it cracks your heart However sweet that other place was, it was not real It was an artifact of your mam s imagination it was a dream of hers and a desire you could not have stayed there forever and called yourself alive Now you are in the true world, and a great dealis required of you Here you must befriend real wolves, and lure real birds down from the sky Here you must endure real people around you, and we are not uniformly kind we are damaged and impulsive, each in our own way It is harder It is not safe But it is what you were born to It also plays into the debate about whether or not this book is suitable for a young adult audience to which it has been marketed in the US and UK Personally, I think that it is quite clear that the book was not written as a children s book There are certainly references and description that a younger audience will not be able to understand fully or relate to, but does that mean that teenagers should not read it I don t think so However much we may wish otherwise, sexual violence is a part of our world, and it is not within our power to completely shield our children from it This book is a tender and sensitive contemplation of the damage that sexual violence can do and the emotional impact it has on a person and, despite its subject matter, it is never graphic in its descriptions The violence is not gratuitous, is not at any point glorified and is not there simply to shock So, my personal view is that this book is appropriate for teens.Frankly, I am farappalled at articles like this which liken the book to emotional pornography Unlike the author of that article, I do not believe children s literature and let me just pause a second there to note that the word children is highly emotionally charged and the book is in fact being marketed at young adults rather than 5 year olds needs to concern itself solely with singing dwarves and a comedy cruel queen, followed by an innocent peck on the cheek by a handsome prince Like Ms Lanagan, I do think that trying to hide the real world from your children is likely to doharm than good and do not feel nostalgic about children s publishing as a world that used to be a peaceful haven from the sordid realities against which most of us would rather shield our children Our children these days are constantly bombarded with images of sex and violence and I would much rather my daughter learned about them by reading a beautifully written, tender and gentle book than by watching the sensationalist news coverage of cases such as that of Elizabeth Fritzl or through smutty playground banter Tender morsels is not an easy book and it is not perfect The middle did drag and I did find the multiple narratives distracting at times and there is a dearth of positive male characters even Ramstrong, in the end is insensitive and small minded, at the very least Yet I found it richly rewarding and loved it despite all those things I loved Lanagan s prose, so vivid and full of flavour, and the way there are no easy answers or straightforward consequences and even the way it left me feeling so cut up and tender that I am convinced that we as readers are the real tender morsels of the title. I was in the mood for a fairy tale retelling for a fun and easy read, and I was saving Tender Morsels for exactly that moment So I settled myself on the couch, sipped some tea, started reading the book, and spit out a mouthful of tea Boy was I wrong From the first paragraph, you are transported to a dark place that hums with cruelty and perversion This is not an easy and fun book to read The early chapters are filled with acts of sexual violence that feelterrifying for being presented in folkloric style To top it all off, your heart will break early and often while reading this book Yet despite it all, I couldn t put it down As I delved in further, the novel transformed from a catalog of horrors to a wrenching portrayal of the hardships of human existence More so, the prose is just exquisite The novel is based on Snow White and Rose Red , but it s not just a retelling of that tale but also a fairy tale on its own Margo Lanagan manages to capture beautiful images in her story and creates two worlds that magically captured me The distinct worlds a desired and peaceful paradise and a harsh and difficult one both miss elements that will make them perfect, but both of them have their own merits I have to admit at first, looking over the difficulties of the latter world, I wished for Liga and her girls to remain in their corner of paradise However,the story not only entangles realities of our world and dreams that many of us had or have, but it also challenges these realities and dreams There is a variety of points of view, and a large cast of humans and animals that are handled with great delicacy and restraint Lanagan not only captures many emotions in her story, but also made me feel most of them I also liked that the characters have their unique and strong voice, and I could feel them manifest it in each dialogue they have within the story While there are elements of very distasteful psychological, physical, and sexual abuse in this book, Lanagan does her best to limit depictions of unpleasantness.The characters grapple with the terrible damages inflicted by life and the inevitability of death and although there is no clean and absolute happily ever after, the book celebrates human resilience and unexpected gifts kindness, love, healing and hope Overall this book was haunting, heartbreaking, but also heartwarming proving that fairy tales are still powerful means of exploring the essence of good and evil. Snow White and Rose Red live with their mother in a cottage upon them comes a bear, out of the cold, into their warmth and into their lives he stays with them a bit they become a sort of family, until he must go away the girls meet a strange and irritable dwarf and save him several times he is not grateful later, the girls come between the dwarf and the now enraged bear the unpleasant dwarf begs the bear to eat the girls rather than his little self can the girls sweet spirits get them out of this mess are the girls able to survive they can, and they will a young girl s mother dies, and she is left with her horrible father in a cottage she is repeatedly molested and impregnated by her father it is important that you know this, that this is a part of the book and this is a part of life, for some a young girl loses her father and is happy for a time a group of boys come upon her, pull her down from the chimney where she has fled, and proceed to rape her it is important that you know this, that this is a part of the book too and this is a part of life, for some can this much abused girl survive she can, and she will.a woman writer named Margo Lanagan decided to write a book about women she would make the book a portrait of a family of women, a family that grows bigger she would make the book a portrait of motherhood and sisterhood and daughterhood, the challenges and the wonder and the excitement of becoming, of transforming into such roles she would make this portrait of women a part of the greater world, so there are many voices heard, even voices of men, sympathetic men and strong, kind ones too the book does not share the voices of those who are brutal and who destroy with their brutality they are not worthy of having their voices heard and they are not missed well, there is a certain voice, a harder voice the dwarf but his story is its own kind of tale, not the story of a brutal man but rather the story of a man small in stature and in spirit, an occasionally unkind man but not a brutal one, and one deserving of some sympathy so this woman writer would take the fable of the sisters Snow White and Rose Red, their cottage and their mother and that dwarf and the bear who was a prince, as her template men in the shape of bears and women in the shape of women she would spin this tale out of prose that is light as gossamer, pliant as cotton, soft as flax, sturdy as wool prose that sings prose that whispers can a woman do all these things in one book, tell all these tales, and still stay true to her goals and still stay true to the myth itself she can, and she did.I was once a residential counselor for runaway kids one girl in particular, I remember her well, she came from a history of sexual abuse, like many others she fled to the house where I worked one night she went out wandering and upon her came a group of men they raped this girl, this girl who had already suffered so much was she broken though she was, for a little while but she came back, she healed, not completely because these kinds of wounds never heal completely, but she did heal she was young and I know that this was still the beginning of her story could she survive this beginning, could she survive and even thrive, one day she could, and she did I thought of this girl quite a bit while reading Tender Morsels, her survival the first 50 pages were exceedingly hard for me to read, for many others to read as well sometimes these kinds of stories need to start hard but they don t need to stay that way, only hard, they can expand and move beyond and transform, become something different, somethingthan atrocity, something bright and warm and ready to embrace those who have been hurt and who long for that bright warmth can stories that start with such terrible things remain hard even vengeful while also growing softer, a soft side and a hard one, side by side, life is all sides, can a story juggle such things, even up until its very end it can, and it did. Evidently, Tender Morsels is a modern retelling of Brothers Grimm s fairy tale Rose Red and Snow White A Grimms Fairy Tale If I have to look for an analogy among better known fairy tale retellings, Tender Morsels is closer in its audacity to Anne Rice s version of Sleeping Beauty The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty than to Robin McKinley s Spindle s End Is Tender Morsels a remarkable work of literature Yes Does it cross the boundaries of what is YA appropriate Yes, again.Liga has had an awful childhood and young adulthood In fact so awful, that she is now resolved to end her life and life of her newborn daughter As she is about to jump off a cliff, she is magically given an opportunity to find safety and peace in her personal heaven a place created by her own imagination, where she can live without fear, surrounded by kind people There, years go by, Liga is safe and happy in the paradise of her own making, raising her two daughters Branza and Urrda But gradually the border between the real and imagined worlds starts to blur and eventually the three women have to decide if they want to stay in Liga s safe but dull and predictable world or go back to the real world, vibrant and energetic, but ugly and violent at the same timeMy first impression of the book was I totally understand why Tender Morsels was given Printz Margo Lanagan can definitely write Not many authors writing possesses the intensity and edginess of Lanagan s And not many can cause readers so much anxiety and make their skin crawl This book is horrifying Also, after thinking about the book for a while, I realized thatthan anything, this fairy tale is an exploration of dissociation as a coping mechanism Liga lives in a world of her own making trying to forget the trauma of her past, and for some time this heaven helps her to pull herself together and raise her children in the safety she has never had But only after facing the real world and reliving her past horrors is Liga able to truly free herself of her demons Tender Morsels is also a remarkable examination of how a mother s fears affect the psyches of her daughters Liga attempts to shelter Branza and Urrda from the horrors of the real world, but what she achieves is planting the same fears in her older daughter and defiance and impatience to explore the outside world in the younger.As you can see, I liked the book and story a lot What I do have a problem with is the classification of this book as YA Many YA writers nowadays push the boundaries of what is appropriate for children, Lanagan I think takes it a tad too far For one, this book is very sexual It is permeated with sexual themes, andoften than not the sexuality explored is not healthy, it is twisted and perverted The majority of men portrayed in this book are sexual predators, and women are either easily available slatterns or unwilling sexual objects who are forcefully taken advantage of The first lines of the book are a good indicator of the tone the book takesThere are plenty would call her a slut for it Me, I was just glad she had shown me Now I could get this embarrassment off me Now I knew what to do when it stuck out its dim one eyed head She were a revelation, Hotty Annie I had not known a girl could feel this too Lucky girls they can feel it and feel it and nothing need show on the outside they have to act all hot like Annie did, talk smut and offer herself to the lads, before anyone can tell But even , the book brings up the subjects not every adult can handle Just in the first chapter, Liga is subjected to repeated incestuous rape, experiences miscarriages and abortions, gives birth to a child and then is gang raped And it doesn t stop there Later on Lanagan ventures into sodomy and, I kid you not, bestiality There is no other way to describe this scene between a girl and a bear although he is a man in real world but manifests as bear in Liga s heavenHe visited once or twice , and then she did not see him again until the spring When she met him then, out in the woods alone, he manifested great excitement, and she was so happy to see him that she allowed him to lick and whiffle as he pleased awhile, until he combined a lick and a pawing of her shift in such a way that he got out one of her breasts Despite her laughing protests and her pushings, he held her body to the tree he had herded her against, and he licked and licked at the rosy nipple as if it were honey licking from a cracked pot, until Branza hardly knew what to think with the heat and strength of the sensation and the horror of the newness Other parts of her responded that were quite far from the nipple itself and yet were connected by some cord of sensation like a string through a wooden puppet Now, I am an adventurous reader, but even I find it hard to take I do not think a regular 12 year old will be able to appreciate or even understand this kind of story.I can not fathom this book could be embraced by the mainstream YA readers I personally found Tender Morsels a memorable book, the type of read that lingers in the back of your mind for a long time But can I wholeheartedly recommend it to a teenager or even an adult I am not sure Full Review LinkTender Morsels has me stumped On the one hand, it is a lushly written novel about horrible things, and I can only marvel at Ms Lanagan s storytelling skills and her ability to craft such a beautifully cruel fable On the other, I have to admit that while this book was powerful and well done, I didn t like it It s with these contradictory emotions that I set out and attempt to write this review, so please, bear with me bad pun, apologies.This provocative young adult novel is a retelling of the brothers Grimm collected fable of Snow White and Rose Red which is not to be confused with the other Grimm Snow White of the wicked sorceress queen, seven dwarves and poison apples In Snow White and Rose Red, two sisters are raised by an impoverished widow in a wooded cottage One winter s night, a bear knocks on their cottage door and the family invites him in, beating the snow from his thick fur and accepting him as a dear friend for every night that winter There s also a dwarf in this tale, who gets himself stuck in strange situations by his glorious, long white beard The two girls help free the dwarf time and time again, but he is ever ungrateful for their meddling The last time the girls see the dwarf, the bear is with them and the dwarf, enraged and terrified tries to flee the hulking, angry beast The bear eats the dwarf and thus breaks the evil enchantment that has been placed on him, for the bear is actually an ensorcelled prince, transformed into the guise of a bear after the dwarf stole his gold Snow White marries the Prince, and Rose Red marries his brother and they all live happily ever after.Snow White and Rose Red free the dwarf from the clutches of a hawkMargo Lanagan s take on the fable is decidedly less happy In the outskirts of a small town, Liga Longbourne lives alone with her father, who rapes and abuses her Liga, completely estranged from the outside world under her father s strict rule, endures this isolated, terrible life until her thirteenth year when she realizes the painful thing she s expelling from her body is a stillborn baby After two forced abortions from her father s remedies courtesy of the local mudwitch , Liga decides to hide her latest pregnancy, desperate for a companion of her own When her father suddenly dies in an accident, she finds herself completely alone for the first time in her life, and gives birth to a beautiful, healthy and fair complexioned baby girl Unfortunately for Liga, five town boys have seen her without a man, with child, and therefore fair game and they brutally rape her in her cottage Unable to take anycruel reality, Liga tries to kill her innocent child as an act of mercy, and then kill herself but she s stopped by an act of magic To spare Liga the cold, unfair world she has lived in, the magic grants her an alternate reality where she can raise her daughters for the gang rape has left her pregnant oncein safety and peace Everyone in Liga s new world is kind and understanding, from the townspeople to the animals, and for many years she and her two daughters, the elder Branza for her fair complexion and mild manners and younger Urdda for her dark coloring and wildness live a happy, sheltered life.Of course, things can never stay so picturesque forever A greedy dwarf with the help of the same mudwitch of Liga s past creates holes into Liga s paradise world, gathering and stealing treasures to make him rich in the real world Through the tears he has made between worlds, a man dressed as a Bear for the town s ceremonial night stumbles through to Liga s cottage, only he has transformed into a true Bear Bear becomes a cherished friend to Liga and her two toddler daughters, and in turn, Bear falls in love with the kind and gentle mother But one summer day, Bear disappears, stumbling back into the real world on the same night that he had disappeared, as though his time in Liga s world has been a dream Urdda, headstrong and eager for her own adventure, later follows the path that Bear took and years later is able to find apowerful witch to bring Liga and Branza to her in the real world and once again, Liga must confront the cold reality of the world she has left behind, and the consequences of raising her daughters in a dream land.As you can see, Tender Morsels is a far cry from a bedtime story of beautiful princesses, fairy rainbows and kindred animals Within the first 100 pages, incest, rape, and child abuse are brutally inflicted on young Liga, heroine of this novel Some readers may take issue with the heavy subject matter, but I did not, especially since Ms Lanagan handles this well without sensationalizing or going into graphic detail The harsh truth is that incest, abuse and rape are realities that many young adults and teens experience, and Ms Lanagan tackles these realities in a bold, effective way Similarly, the quality of writing in Tender Morsels is undeniably strong Each of the characters speaks in a unique dialect, and Ms Lanagan s prose is lush and evocative, conveying both beauty and pain in equal measure More than that, Ms Lanagan writes characters with an acute understanding of their emotions and dreams, crafting a cast that thrums with life.When a girl of fourteen wants a thing when she has wanted it all her conscious life when she senses it near and bends all her hope, and all her will, and all her power to it sometimes, sometimes her self and her desires will be of such material that worlds will move for her Or parts of worlds, their skins particularly, will soften to her pressure, and break in a thousand small and undramatic ways, so that she may reach through, so that what seemed a wall reveals itself to be only thought of a wall, or a wall constructed of bricks of smoke, mortared with mist There is a smell to such workings, and Urdda smelled it here and now at the rim of the bear scent, as if someone had held a flaming brand near that bear fur so that it began to singe and smoke and reek.No, I certainly cannot fault Tender Morsels for any deficiency in writing for it is a beautifully crafted story.But, at the end of the day, for all the beauty of Ms Lanagan s writing and for the rich and believable characters she creates with the weary Liga, the innocent Branza and the headstrong Urdda, I simply could not like the story I was reading.I m of the firm belief that no subject matter is inappropriate for teens, or for any literature, for that matter The weighty issues that begin Tender Morsels are not the reason why I could not connect with this book Rather, my emotional limbo is mostly a product of two main factors the question of stereotyping, and the question of cruelty.First, there s the question of stereotyping Of the two daughters, Branza is the Snow White character she s pale and fair, beautiful, gentle and completely meek Branza loves her mother s dream world, she never causes any trouble, she s friend to all animals, and she s completely mild and agreeable Then, there s Urdda, the Rose Red character In contrast to her fair, perfect sister, Urdda is dark complexioned it is mentioned earlier in the book that one of the boys who gang raped Liga is a foreigner whose face looks sooted , and temperamental, and altogether wildness personified She s also the selfish sister, the one who demands to know answers and who brings her family out from their quiet, protected dream world This dichotomy of the fair skinned diligent good girl, against the dark skinned, willful wild girl bothers me It s a stereotype as old as the fairy tale Tender Morsels is retelling, but translates poorly at least to me, as a reader Branza, the white, the untainted and the dutifully unquestioning is rewarded, while Urdda with her dusky complexion and demanding, inquisitive nature is the one who suffers because of her wildness And this too blends into my next reason for discomfort with the novel There s also the question of cruelty Not the rape and other acts inflicted upon Liga but rather the cruelty that the author inflicts on her in the last third of the book I could argue that the entire last third or so of the book is completely unnecessary, as this is where the book fell apart for me Liga is the protagonist of the story It is with Liga s struggles that we begin Tender Morsels, and it is by her strength in raising two girls born of horrible, unspeakable circumstances that the novel takes root and blossoms But in the ending of the book, I cannot help but feel that a cruelty of the greatest, most unforgivable kind is enforced on Liga as a character, for purposes of literary shock value I do not wish to explicitly spoil, but simply will say that by the end of the novel, I felt betrayed and emotionally exploited I m all for bittersweet stories or those with unhappy endings, but this ending was unnecessary and reenforced my discomfort with character stereotypes Liga, for all that she has been through and endured for her daughters is still tainted, broken Liga Her untouched daughters especially the dutiful and pure as snow Branza are the ones who receive the happy ending.So, I m at a loss to truly assign a grade or rate to Tender Morsels The book is unquestionably powerful and well written, but certain facets of the story left me with a bitter taste in my mouth While I did not particularly like this book and will not in all likelihood read it again, I feel like I accomplished something by reading it And I encourage others to give it a try, to form your own opinions.Verdict On an intellectual level, on an aesthetic level, Tender Morsels is a beautiful gem of a novel It s written well with compelling characters, and with an original take on an old fable For that alone, I would give the novel an 8 But as for a deeper, emotional experience I could not bring myself to like this novel, and certain simplistic stereotypes as well as the unnecessary cruelty of the ending left me feeling hollow and exploited as a reader Going with my gut, I d give the book an emotional rating of a 4 So where does that leave me and the novel I m cheating and including both ratings and I strongly encourage all readers to give Tender Morsels a read and to form your own opinions I d be delighted to read your thoughts on this provocative novel.Rating 8 Excellent for the writing 4 Horrible for the emotional exploitation. Once upon a time, the skeleton of this story was called Snow White and Rose Red Like all fairy tales, it left much unexplained Too much Well, Margo Lanagan took those bones and added muscle and guts, bracing the loose joints of the plot with her characters emotions, motivations, and histories That s the secret of successful retellings fleshing out the gaps that relied almost entirely on the readers willful ignorance or suspension of belief, yet still leaving room for the existence of magic And Lanagan knows how to handle magic delicately enough to make it believable Tender Morsels revolves around magical doings, but never degrades enchantment to the level of coincidence The plot must bend to fit the whims of the magic, and never, ever the reverse Yet the setting is so rich that it all feels impossibly real.And the characters hoo, the characters They are vivid, passionate, flawed, sometimes randy but never gratuitous , and fiercely devoted to their hearts desires Desires tangled with magic, though, turn out to havepower than any one of them have bargained for.It s been almost a week and I am still basking and soaking in this story It is deep, thick, and heavy, but not in the ways that makes reading tiresome It isn t a book you finish and set aside you surface from it and wait for it to roll off you I know, I know I m going all purple and gushy Plus I ve overshot my adjective quota without ever managing to work in visceral Crap An about face I am somewhat loathe to admit this is not a book for everyone Not by a long shot The switching points of view, the nature of the abuse Liga weathers, and the spattering of old world Britishy Irishy dialect each have the potential to deter a number of readers.However, if you loved the themes of sweetness and brutality in The Giver, the robust characters and setting of The Moorchild, and the emotional tone of Donna Jo Napoli s fairy tale based novels, I d lay odds you ll be content to envelop yourself for a few days in Tender Morsels It is quite possibly THE best reading experience I ve had so far this year. Tender Morsels is a modern retelling of Grimms Snow White and Rose Red Liga had a painful past and was magicked away to another world where she was safe and could raise her two daughters free of violence and the small mindedness of the villagers in the town she once inhabited Once the security of their safe world was breached, Liga and her daughters had to learn to adapt to living in the real world Beautifully written, rich, disturbing, compelling, yet hopeful, with vividly drawn characters whose tragic and joyful lives fully engage the emotions One of my favorite passages shows Liga s daughter, Branza s quiet way with animalsBranza tried to stay as still as a cabbage Her body swayed very slightly and her insides rushed and thumped with excitement, her breath gusting, her eyelashes swishing as she blinked Her body was like a storm gathered into itself over the hare, putting out a very narrow, silent finger of lightning She crouched huge and dangerous, brimful of her five human years and growing all the time, and the hare had seemingly forgotten what a thunderous presence she was, had come and put its delicate furred self, its veiny ears that would tear like rags, its jittery bones, at her mercy I need to think about the rating and review for novel It has me flummoxed in a way I haven t been over a book before While I was trawling Melbourne bookstores for a copy which was a saga in itself I had a discussion with a bookseller about Tender Morsels In passing, I mentioned the brouhaha it had been caught up in a while ago, along with several other novels , over its inclusion a feminist YA reading list The subsequent fallout and discussion made for interesting reading, specifically where it touched on the various interpretations of Tender Morsels and it s undeniably difficult content However, the bookseller just shrugged, as if the storm in an internet teacup was hardly worth deigning to notice Margo Lanagan, he said, is an artist Having now finished Tender Morsels, I m not going to argue with that I m not sure I have ever read a book like this, a chimera of the beautiful and the repulsive While part of my mind was entangled in the lush, complex writing, part of me felt uneasy and troubled which is a credit to Lanagan, who unsettles the reader masterfully Is it art Undoubtedly Am I in awe of it Completely Did I like it I don t know Full review to come Huzzah Success throws confetti Now to readalong with Miss Leanne I ve been running backwards and forwards across Melbourne to hunt a copy of this down. Elusive book, you will be mine Though I thought Tender Morsels was a fantastically written and unbelievably well imagined story, my first instinct is to throw my hands up in warning at any teenager or in fact any adult who might come strolling along in search of just another typical fairytale retelling Because that s what this is in it s barest form, it is a retelling of the Brothers Grimm s tale of Rose Red Snow White A Grimms Fairy Tale And don t we all just love the call of the dark retellings We imagine blood and gore and perhaps sex what I don t think the majority of people imagine is incest, gory miscarriages, gang rapes and bestiality.I kid you not in just the first couple of chapters we are introduced to Liga a girl who has been repeatedly raped by her father and then forced to drink some gut churning concoctions in order to force the abortion of any pregnancies and we see the absolute horrors of sexual abuse she has lived through that have made her the person she later becomes A person who is so afraid that her fear manifests into a powerful magic which allows Liga to create for herself and her daughters Branza and Urdda a world separate from that of reality A world where the three of them can hide in harmony.But Liga s attempts to shield her daughters from the cruelty of the real world ultimately fail Branza becomes a slave to the same fears that plagued her mother, and Urdda s wild curiosity gets the better of her After time, the border starts to blur between the real world and this magical realm of Liga s imagination.I was utterly enthralled by the story and by the strength of Ms Lanagan s characters Above all else, she is undoubtedly a brilliant writer But THIS IS NOT A YOUNG ADULT BOOK It just isn t Never before have I read a book so wrongly categorised Even if teens were ready to stomach this kind of brutality and blatant sexuality, I don t think the average teenager would appreciate this kind of story anyway There s a lot of dark, unhealthy sexual stuff going on in Tender Morsels I don t mind sex in books, I don t mind lots of sex in books, but even I found it hard to stomach the repeated rapes, incest and bestiality I honestly didn t know what to think when a girl gets a sexual thrill from having a bear lick her breast this just takes perversity to a whole new level And was that whole thing really necessary Hmm Unlike most books that I rate highly, I refuse to recommend this to anyone in particular It is too strange and gross and disturbing for me to be confident that anyone will like it You will have to be quite the adventurous reader and you will have to be able to cringe and move on at some of the weirdest bits But I doubt you ll be unaffected, that s for sure Now I m going to go ponder what it says about me that I was unmoved by Wonder and thought this dark, rapey novel was actually really good. Tender Morsels Is A Dark And Vivid Story, Set In Two Worlds And Worrying At The Border Between Them Liga Lives Modestly In Her Own Personal Heaven, A World Given To Her In Exchange For Her Earthly Life Her Two Daughters Grow Up In This Soft Place, Protected From The Violence That Once Harmed Their Mother But The Real World Cannot Be Denied Forever Magicked Men And Wild Bears Break Down The Borders Of Liga S Refuge Now, Having Known Heaven, How Will These Three Women Survive In A World Where Beauty And Brutality Lie Side By Side