Molly Shaffer’s young adult novel THE PURPOSE OF ME isn’t light fare for teenagers, but rather serious reading for people on the threshold of adult life. It deals with some of the darkest issues a young person can face; the kind of things that can derail a life before it has really begun. I won’t mention the exact issues because I want to avoid spoilers, but will say that the lasting trauma of such issues can carry over into and dominate adulthood. This makes Ms. Shaffer’s novel an engrossing read for adults of any age, even antiques like me.
The prose here are excellent and pull you in right away. The plot revolves around a misplaced diary found at a local thrift store by a young woman named Rigby. The narrative alternates between diary excerpts and Rigby’s life, a parallel structure that gains resonance as the story progresses. The deeper I traveled into the story, the more real it became. The words and actions of Rigby and the unknown diarist are chillingly authentic, and I eventually began to lose any sense of this story being fiction. The author has an unmatched deftness with this dark subject matter. The acknowledgements at the end of the tale reveal the reason behind this aptitude for portraying pain.
In the end, the dark material that constitutes this novel is handled with such honesty and sensitivity that the result is uplifting. I would strongly recommend this novel for any young adult struggling to make sense of the onset of adult realities, any older adult still struggling with the carnage left behind from childhood, or anyone who loves someone beset by such issues. Personally, I had a happy childhood, yet I found myself engrossed and moved by this novel. Basically, I find it hard to imagine anyone being unaffected by this story.
I think I would love to read this one! I find Adulting so hard 🙂 thanks for sharing your thoughts Robert!
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Molly Shaffer didn’t just inspire teenagers through her wonderful writing and story telling of THE PURPOSE OF ME, she has helped so many students find themselves meaning and have some a sense of relief. She’s lifted a weight off my chest knowing that someone as seccessful as herself, In my eyes at least, suffered so much as a child. I felt a connection to her after reading this and I myself found myself back into an old hobby of mine, writing. I’d loved writing since fifth grade and by seventh I lost my spark to write. I felt if I did anything more than keep it to myself I’d be to critisized. So I lost my inspiration and stopped as a whole. That’s when she became my ELA teacher. She encouraged me to write to my hearts content and expanded my knowledge. I’m very in debt to her in my mind and I can’t wait to read what else she has in store. I’m glad now that such an amazing teacher and writer had become a part of my life. I want Mrs. Shaffer to know that so many people I know, partially myself as well can really relate to the story she’s brought upon us. I couldn’t quite pull myself out of this book and some pages I’d feel so connected with i just sat reading it over and over before I continued with the rest. I’m a slow reader usually but this book pulled me in all at once and I finished within the hour. Thank you for this book, knowledge, and connection you gave me. Thank you for the glimpse into the life of someone who became so successful with a painful past.
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