The modern battle against bullying is hard to miss: From anti-cyberbulling PSAs to state laws that target bullies, parents and administrators are more involved than ever in helping kids fight back. But in 1989 when Margaret Atwood published Cat's Eye, books that dived so deeply into the world of girl-on-girl bullying were few and far between. Narrator Kimberly Farr turns the story into a haunting tale of the lifelong consequences that can follow you from childhood – made all the more chilling from a modern point of view.
The story is told from the perspective of Elaine Risley, a Canadian painter who returns to her hometown for a show of her work. The activities surrounding the show frame her slowly returning memories of her childhood, and the three girls she used to pal around with. Now, we’d call these girls frenemies. Led by a girl named Cordelia, the trio teases, taunts, and hazes young Elaine even as she tries to stay on their good side. By high school, Elaine has broken away from the group, but the emotional affects of the friendships follow her through art school, adulthood, and into her romantic relationships.
Farr takes the character of Elaine from elementary school-age outcast to resigned adult, weaving in distinct voices for other characters – Elaine's adult friends, her lovers, her family – as Elaine tries to move past the memories of Cordelia. As a girl making a faux pas at another family's Sunday Dinner, as a teen who jokes with her brother while they're drying the dishes, as an art student sleeping with the teacher, and as a middle-aged painter reflecting on her life, Farr gives the story personality, charm, and the right mix of nostalgia and fuzzy memories. Elaine's straightforward, accepting description of the way her friends treated her will draw up your own memories of facing down the mean girls at your school – and remind you how far you've come. Blythe Copeland
Cat's Eye is the story of Elaine Risley, a controversial painter who returns to Toronto, the city of her youth, for a retrospective of her art. Engulfed by vivid images of the past, she reminisces about a trio of girls who initiated her into the fierce politics of childhood and its secret world of friendship, longing, and betrayal. Elaine must come to terms with her own identity as a daughter, a lover, an artist, and a woman--but above all she must seek release from her haunting memories. Disturbing, hilarious, and compassionate, Cat's Eye is a breathtaking novel of a woman grappling with the tangled knot of her life.
©1989 Margaret Atwood (P)2011 Random House
"A brilliant, three-dimensional mosaic...the story of "Elaine's childhood is so real and heartbreaking you want to stand up in your seat and cheer." (Boston Sunday Globe)
"Stunning...Atwood conceives Elaine with a poet's transforming fire; and delivers her to us that way, a flame inside an icicle." (Los Angeles Times)
"Nightmarish, evocative, heartbreaking." (The New York Times Book Review)
I have read this book at least four times, and have loved it more each time. The book is funny, beautiful, intelligent, and heartbreaking.
Whoever chose this narrator needs to have their head examined. Kimberly Farr is perhaps the WORST narrator I've ever had the misfortune to encounter. I was immediately annoyed by her over-enunciating robotic voice, and her over-acting. I am horribly disappointed that Ms. Farr has ruined all the joy I was anticipating in listening to this marvelous book. Simply ghastly!
Do yourself a favor. Read the book instead.
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