Friday, December 9, 2011

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
By Michelle Hodkin

This books begins with a letter that tells us that the main character's name is not Mara Dyer but she has been told by her attorney to give a fake name. Then the book begins to unfold piece by piece. At first, you wake up with "Mara" in the hospital with no memory of how her friends have been killed and the fact that she is the only one to survive. Then her family moves to Miami and she must start at a private high school where she no only feels out of place but begins to have strange experiences. She has horrific dreams that take her back to the fateful night, she begins hallucinating and grabs the attention of the best-looking and most desired boy in her school.  I can't tell you much more about the book because you have to experience the way the details are given as the plot unfolds. I can say that Mara is a very unusual girl and I cannot wait to find out more in the next book. Yes, the book does end with a kind of cliffhanger.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is unusual in some aspects but seems familiar in others. I found her interaction and dialogue with Noah fun to read. However, the character of Noah was so much like the character of Edward in Twilight that I couldn't help but make continuous comparisons. Mara is different from Bella in that she does not go after Noah. In fact, she really wants to be left alone but she draws the attention of Noah's former girlfriend and other popular students and is subjected to a lot of bullying. I did like her brothers, Daniel and Joseph, who often are the golden children compared with the crazy, mixed-up Mara.

What did this book have to do with my faith? The use of Biblical names for several of the main characters was curious to me if not a bit distracting. From the first of the book, the reader is given an emphasis on names. In the Old Testament, Mara is the name of Ruth's mother-in-law. The name means bitter. Mara had lost her two sons, her husband and her adopted country. She did not feel like she had any type of future. In this book, Mara is bitter. She has lost her best friend, Rachel (also the name of Jacob's favored wife), their other friend Claire (not in the Bible but a popular Christian name) and Claire's brother/Mara's crush, Jude (shortened from Judas, perhaps -- certainly fits this character). Mara moves to a new country, Miami and a new school where she is ostracized, much like the biblical Mara. Mara Dyer comes to believe that there is no future for her, either. In addition, there is the boy, Noah (savior of all creation through obedience to God and building the ark -- very similar to this character) and Mara's only friend, also a boy named Jamie (short for James, one of Jesus' disciples who was killed in the book of Acts). To top this off, both of Mara's brothers have biblical names: Daniel (of the den of lions and the dream interpretations) and Joseph (also a dream interpreter, sold into slavery by his family, but saved his family in the end). Reading The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer made me think about the biblical characters and seemed to give extra insight into each of this book's characters.

I highly recommend this book -- I think it will be on my top ten list this year!

Happy Reading!


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