Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Lois Duncan Book Dump: Daughters of Eve, The Third Eye, and Down a Dark Hallway

 I know this is a book blog and not a personal blog, but I must admit that sometimes the lines blur.  Last night my best friend asked me if I’d considered journaling as a way to experience some relief from some recent personal sadness.  I told her that I’m awful at personal blogging for the same reasons I’ve outlined a number of times already on this book blog, and that I’d been seeking a creative outlet in fiction.  She was pleased to hear about this particular blog, but I don’t think she really considers it “journaling.”  If only she knew that part of my fiction refuge has been teenage thrillers written in the 70s and 80s by Teen Thriller Queen Lois Duncan.  These books have everything a woman in her thirties could want, provided what a woman in her thirties wants is a strong female lead and some spooky drama that eventually gets wrapped up in a pleasing way by the end of the book.
        I picked out Daughters of Eve based on an OverDrive digital media recommendation, and until I was part way through the audiobook I didn’t know that the author was the same woman who wrote “I Know What You Did Last Summer.”  In fact, there were things about Daughters of Eve that seemed incongruous and I later realized that it’s because the book was written in 1979, but the audiobook version had been updated to include things like texting and the internet.  I hate when publishers do that.  Most of us are smart enough to know that time existed before technology.  Reading is a way to get in touch with the past, and sneaking in modern technology just ruins that.  
        If you can remember the moment that you realized that women, no matter how far we’ve come, are still held to the idea that our REAL work is just popping out babies and getting dinner on the table, then this book will fill you with rage.  Obviously, it’s hyperbole, and yes, it’s filled with some over the top preaching on a subject that’s made some progress since 1979.  Still, if you’re a woman, or if a woman you know has ever been told that the thing that’s “wrong” with your life is that she doesn’t have a baby to “put things in perspective,” or that she’d be less confused if she stuck to her traditional role (both things that have been said to me, by the way) this book will make you want to set everything on fire.  
        There’s also a flip side to the gender norm bucking trend here. As the teenagers in this book rebel against old fashioned notions, they slip too far to the other side.  They assume sexism where none exists, and they take action in ways that are vengeful rather than productive.  I’ve read that some people think the mixed ending of this book is anti-feminist but I don’t think that’s the case.  I think it’s a book about using your brains to take appropriate action to rise against injustice.  The characters who crossed the line paid the consequences.  Those who kept their heads down and proved people wrong by improving themselves rather than trying to change others had happy endings.  Sure, you may want to murder someone who has made your life completely miserable, but you’re going to get caught.  Ladies, take it from me.  Murder isn’t the answer.  What you want to do is make this person’s life a living hell. Drag it out, day by day, for the rest of their lives. The best way to do that is by educating yourselves and grabbing little personal power.  If these girls had relied on things like blackmail and damage to their boyfriends’ and dads’ credit scores, they’d have gotten much further ahead.  Or would they?  I mean, obviously I would never encourage anyone to do anything illegal, but…well, crimes have to be proven, don’t they?  

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