Thursday, May 9, 2013
Crush. Candy. Corpse. by Sylvia McNicoll
AUTHOR: Sylvia McNicoll
PUBLISHER/YEAR: James Lorimer & Company / 2012
SOURCE: For Review from Publisher via NetGalley
Goodreads / Author's Website
Every once in awhile a book comes around that surprises me. I requested Crush. Candy. Corpse on NetGalley in large part because I was intrigued by the cover, plus I figured it would be a quick read that was mildly enjoyable. I definitely did not expect what I got. I wasn't completely engrossed in the book like I am in some, but it was more than mildly enjoyable. Crush. Candy. Corpse. was a solid book that explored the nuances of euthanasia and ageism in modern Canadian society. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I ended up caring for the characters by the time I was done.
We first meet Sunny on the day her trial for manslaughter begins. Up until this point she was a fairly typical teenager. She had a boyfriend her parents didn't approve of, hung out at the mall, was caught shoplifting once, but she wasn't a terrible person. She was a volunteer at Paradise Manor to complete her 40 hours mandatory community service for graduation, but she actually really cared about the alzheimers' patients. Told from Sunny's perspective alternating between scenes at the trial and her time at the home, we come to see Sunny's struggle to do the right thing at the home that eventually ends in her trial after being accused of helping a resident commit suicide.
Crush. Candy. Corpse. deals with a topic you pretty much never see in Young Adult literature, euthanasia. It doesn't provide any easy or solid answers, but McNicoll manages to examine this topic in a way that's both appropriate for the age group its aimed at and thought provoking. Sunny is always trying to help these seniors; she cares about them. She sees them struggling day in and out, but doesn't know the best way to help them. She wants them to have choices, even though they do not have the mental capacity at this point to make safe choices. You feel for Sunny and you feel for the patients. There is no right answer and everybody is just doing their best to make these patients as happy and comfortable as they can be. McNicoll does a brilliant job illustrating this struggle and it really pushes the reader to examine their own views on the topic.
Watching bonds form between these characters was touching. Even though they couldn't remember things from one moment to the next they seemed to be able to sense that Sunny was kind and caring. For her part, Sunny grew exponentially as a person because of her experiences. It was lovely to see her go from somebody just trying to get credits towards graduation to somebody who was putting other people's concerns first. It was a beautiful coming of age story in that respect.
I really enjoyed switching between the courtroom and Sunny's memories of the seniors home and journal entries about it. It was nice to watch the story unfold and the more we learnt about Sunny, the more we cared for her. Watching all the pieces fall into place helped shift my perspective as a reader and brought a lot more emotional depth to the story than I was expecting. We slowly learned about Sunny's family dynamics, relationships and changing attitudes which brought with it a deeper understanding of her as a character. It was an effective framing device for this particular book.
I would highly recommend Crush. Candy. Corpse. not only to teens, but to readers of any age. How many books force you to confront your own beliefs on euthanasia, death and justice? Crush. Candy. Corpse. was an effective book in this way and brought with it a much deeper emotional connection to the characters than I thought possible when I first began reading it.