Most helpful positive review
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
I'd give it 10 stars if I could
on 26 March 2008
It's very rare that a book makes me cry real, actual, physical tears, but Girl Meets Boy by Ali Smith had me sobbing like a Brownie. Tears of happiness I might add: tears of happiness for the characters, and tears of happiness because the novel itself, the words Ali Smith had written, were just perfect.
The book is a modern-day retelling of the myth of Iphis, one of the few happy moments in Ovid's Metamorphoses, where Iphis the girl is transformed into Iphis the boy in time to marry Ianthe (a girl), the love of her/his life. In Smith's version, there are two sisters in Inverness, Midge (or Imogen) and Anthea. Midge works for Pure, a company selling bottled water to the middle class masses, while Anthea is dreamier. Anthea falls in love with Robin - a girl with her name spelled the boys way - when she daubs anti-capitalist slogans on the outside of the Pure building.
As the chapters jump from Anthea's voice, to Midge's, and back, we see two sisters coming to terms with their lives and their loves and their true feelings. The endings for both girls are truly euphoric both in plot terms and in the tone of Smith's evocative, provocative stream of consciousness prose:
"We'd thought we were along, Robin and I. We'd thought it was just us, under the trees outside the cathedral. But as soon as we'd made our vows there was a great whoop of joy behind us, and when we turned round we saw all the people, there must have been hundreds, they were clapping and cheering, they were throwing confetti, they waved and they roared celebration."
Ali Smith is at her best, too, when she writes about love. Rarely do I find a writer that can encapsulate the very essence of what it feels like to be in love, but she does it. And she did it in this book time and time again... there were passages I read over and over again just to savour the words and sentences and the feelings they evoked. I could almost taste them.
"I had not known, before us, that every vein in my body was capable of carrying light, like a river seen from a train makes a channel of sky etch itself deep into a landscape. I had not known that I could be so much more than myself."
And as if all this didn't tick enough of my boxes, Girl Meets Boy also contains a heartfelt rallying cry for women's rights. I shall leave you with these words, as they appear in this marvelous, beautiful little gem of a book:
"...sexual or domestic violence affects one out of three women and girls worldwide and it is the world's leading cause of injury and death for women... THIS MUST CHANGE"
Go on yoursel', Ali.