Hummingbirds by Joshua Gaylord

Oh my dears.  I don’t know if I should put this down to the huge reading slump I am in (3 weeks and counting, still haven’t finished a book) or the browbeating I feel  like I am getting from this book, but I’m afraid this is going to be a big ole Did Not Finish.  Which is sad because I really wanted to like this book.  I loves me some books set in a private school, especially ones for girls, but whoa.  This is maybe too much.

Obviously, since I haven’t finish and am seriously considering not finishing it, (which, knowing me means I won’t), I’m going to give you the Summary from

A wonderfully compelling debut novel about the intertwining and darkly surprising relationships between the teachers and students at an all-girls prep school Spend a year at the Carmine-Casey School for Girls, an elite prep school on Manhattan’s Upper East Side: the year when the intimate private school community becomes tempestuous and dangerously incestuous as the rivalries and secrets of teachers and students intersect and eventually collide.

In the world of students, popular and coquettish Dixie Doyle, with her ironic pigtails, battles to wrest attention away from the smart and disdainful Liz Warren, who spends her time writing and directing plays based on the Oresteia. In the world of teachers, the adored Leo Binhammer struggles to share his territory with Ted Hughes, the charming new English teacher who threatens to usurp Binhammer’s status as the department’s only male teacher and owner of the girls’ hearts. When a secret is revealed between them, Binhammer grows increasingly fascinated by the man he has determined is out to get him.

As seasons change and tensions mount, the girls long for entry into the adult world, toying with their premature powers of flirtation. Meanwhile, the deceptive innocence of the adolescent world complete with plaid skirts and scented highlighters becomes a trap into which the flailing teachers fall. By the end of the year the line between maturity and youth begins to blur, and the question on the final exam is: Who are the adults and who are the children?

Sounds really good right?  All repressed sexuality and deflowerings and scandals and whatnot.  Like wrote in her review, it’s the “Gossip Girl for the thinking woman or man.” Yet it’s lacking something and I’m thinking that something might be some heart.  Gaylord is a lovely writer; extremely evocative.  At first, I was delighting in the shear beautiful of language, the richness of it, the utter beauty of it.  But then, around page 50 or so, it started to grate. on. my. nerves.  And geez, all these girls!  They are like walking sex time-bombs and I can’t tell who is going to go off first, the girls or their male teacher Mr. Binhammer. (Talk about phallic symbolism. Sheesh.)  And then, then!  Gaylord introduces a character named Ted Hughes?  For Pete’s Sake!!!  And starts talking about how all the girls are going to slit their wrists or stick their heads in ovens a la Sylvia Plath?  Gah!

For all the flowery talk, the book is insanely readable.  I read these first 55 pages pretty quickly.  I’m just not connecting to anyone. At all.  And dude, after 50 pages?  I need some connection.  So alas, I feel this book isn’t for me.  But please, please, please check out the other stops on this tour and get more opinions.  For, like I said, it could all be me.  It’s happened before!

Hummingbirds: A Novel by Joshua Gaylord
Published by: Harper Perennial Paperback – 368
On Sale: October 5, 2010 ISBN: 9780061769023

Purchase from The Book Depository or Barnes & Noble.

Please see other reviews on this TLC Book Tour.  Huge thank yous to those lovely ladies and the Publisher, for the book.

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11 thoughts on “Hummingbirds by Joshua Gaylord

  1. Damn, Heather, but you're good! 😀 Seriously, I can't believe how good a feel I got for this book from your post, despite the fact that it was a DNF. I'm sorry it didn't click with you–always disappointing, but even more so when you had high hopes for the book.

  2. It's so disappointing when one cannont seem to connect with a book that sounds like something that one normally would love. I appreciate your honesty, Heather 🙂

  3. Oh, that stinks! I hate it when that happens — I've heard a lot of good things about it as well, so who knows! I might still pick it up and read it — will circle back with you to patch along my thoughts as well!

  4. I struggled with this one, too, and for just the reason you mentioned: lack of emotional connection. It was just like words, words, words… some thoughts. Descriptions. Nothing to make me feel one way or another for these characters — unless you count Liz, who just got on my nerves!

  5. Usually I do not learn article on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very compelled me to try and do it! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, very nice article.

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