Thursday, April 21, 2016

Confession of a Storyteller (1981) by Hila Colman

my copy of the book

I'm back with another Hila Colman book. It's about a girl who is upset that her teacher is in a relationship so she allows a false rumor of inappropriate behavior go uncorrected. When I first read the description before buying the book, I assumed this would be a male teacher. But, no, Miss Jones is the object of our protag's affections. Could she be gay? Let's see how Colman handles this topic...

Annie is frustrated because she is nine months younger than her classmates because she skipped a grade or something. The pain of being smart. You wouldn't think nine months was such a big deal, but Annie insists there is a huge difference between twelve and thirteen. Annie isn't interested in boys like her former best friend Caroline. She would rather tool around in her garden than go to make-out parties. 

The school year starts and Annie meets her new music teacher, Miss Jones. She is immediately smitten. The word "crush" is thrown around by both Annie's mother and Caroline. Annie sees Miss Jones as being a spiritual being rather than a physical one. She begins taking private piano lessons from her.

Miss Jones meets Mr. (Jason) Pascal at a wood stove store when she and Annie stop in to see about a new stove for Miss Jones. Annie sees there might be something there and takes an immediate dislike toward the man.

Annie mentions her absentee father as an afterthought. Her father works a lot out of town and when he is home he and Annie's mother don't have much to talk about. Annie has heard her mother crying at night. I have a feeling this situation with her parents is supposed to be a big factor in the way Annie behaves toward her teacher and her feelings toward relationships.

Annie has a sort-of boyfriend, Brian, a geeky kid a year older than she is. They make out one day and when he leaves Annie feels guilty, remembering the way Miss Jones had talked about monks and nuns having the best kind of life because they aren't burdened down by relationships.   

Annie asks Miss Jones how she can stop having "bad thoughts" i.e. about Brian, though she doesn't mention that her thoughts are sexual. Miss Jones comes over to Annie's for dinner and her father (who has leered at the teacher all night) says he's surprised she's not married yet. Annie goes into a spiel about how Miss Jones is above all that because she's a spiritual and ethereal creature and Annie is going to be the same way. (Okay, I'm getting bored with this book. This kid isn't gay; she just has some weird ideas about things.)

On her next piano lesson, Annie finds out that Miss Jones is living with Jason. Annie takes this as a personal insult and cries in the bathroom. Miss Jones guesses Annie's feelings and tries to comfort her, but Annie is inconsolable. Brian finds her and reveals that he likes her but Annie pushes him away too. 

Annie suffers through the next few months and then it's Miss Jones' birthday. Annie has been invited to have cake with her and Jason. Miss Jones and Jason have to leave early before Annie's mom comes to pick her up and Annie drinks all the leftover martinis the adults had with their cake.

Annie is a little tipsy and her mother is furious. She calls a neighborhood meeting and the school board is notified. They also make an issue of the fact that Miss Jones is living with Jason without being married...a sign of the times. Annie has plenty of chances to reveal the truth (although yes, it was pretty stupid to leave a teenager with alcohol on the table and trust they aren't going to sample it,but she didn't GIVE the martinis to Annie like she's being accused of.) 

Annie feels guilty but confesses eventually at a school board meeting. She goes on a date with Brian. (I kind of skimmed the end of the book.) Annie isn't the most likeable character I've ever met, though it would be hard to empathize with someone who acted the way she did. The book is kind of a letdown because I thought the vicious rumor would be juicier, and that Annie would have more motivation for her strange behavior.  

P.S. Would be nice if I got a comment on one of my posts (don't care which). Come on, it's been two years and I've only gotten one comment!

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