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WordsAndTheirMeainingsIt is June and the one year deadaversary of Anna’s bruncle Joe. Joe was really her uncle, her dad’s brother, but since he was only a few years older than Anna, he was more like a brother. He was living in their house and her father acted more like a father to Joe than a brother. Anna worshipped Joe. He was her best friend and they told each other everything. Anna blames herself for Joe’s death, which also caused her parents to split up and get divorced. She’s got a lot on her mind. Her Gramps, her maternal grandfather, seems to be the one holding the family together.

Since Joe’s death, Anna’s been practicing ‘coffin yoga’ where she lies on her bed pretending she was dead. She also writes lines from Patti Smith songs on her arm every day. Her seven year old sister Bea acts out differently…she hides in places in which she can’t be found, except Anna can find her.

Anna’s behavior is causing concern for her parents. They force her to ‘act normal’ for the summer and get a summer job or they will send her to a special school that deals with her abnormal behavior. Her best friend Natalie gets her a job waitressing where she meets Mateo and soon a relationship blossoms.

Bassett’s debut novel, Words and Their Meanings, takes us through the summer. Of course this is a summer of discovery. Anna discovers that Joe wasn’t as great as she perceived him to be. She discovered that her father, who left the family after Joe’s death, wasn’t as bad as she perceived him to be. She discovered that a flourishing romance can break her out of her guilt ridden emotions and show that life is worth living, that the future holds promise.

Words and Their Meanings is a combination of the obvious and the not so obvious. Unfortunately, for me anyway, seven year old Bea was a much more entertaining character than Anna, and while never having experienced the kind of loss Anaa experienced, to me her actions didn’t ring true. Bea, on the other hand, acted like a seven year old, at times hiding in the oddest places and at other times asking the questions a seven year old would ask, not the great philosophical questions but the practical questions like where will Joe go after his death (meaning geographically, not spiritually)?

Some twists and turns at the end were unnecessary for the story, in my mind.

So, overall, while I enjoyed Words and Their Meanings, it started out with more promise than it ended up with.

 

 

 

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