"A Fistful of Sky" is wonderful on so many different levels. The first, most immediate, one is the "good story" level. This book is a great read, fun, compelling, magical, and dark by turns. The plot is just irresistable -- the magicless "ugly duckling" of a family of magicians suddenly develops the power of curses -- and the main character is very likable and personable. The various twists and turns of the plot will keep you engaged with the story, compulsivly turning pages. It's both a fun read and a good, thought-provoking read.
Another level I can appreciate this book on is the "good writing" level. Hoffman writes beautiful, pellucid prose that is simultaneously simple, easy-to-read, and relatively transparent, and also gorgeous, poetical, and resonant with meaning. This is good stuff, here.
And then there's Gypsum's coming-of-age story. Any woman out there who has ever struggled with a weight problem will be able to identify with Gypsum. There's a scene that takes place in Gypsum's adolescence where her mother casts a well-intentioned but horribly inappropriate spell on her to make her lose weight that will have all of us fat girl readers wincing in recognition and sympathetic pain. More than that, the idea of Gypsum, a full-figured woman, being afraid to use her own power just resonated strongly with me.
Ultimately, this book is about coming to terms with yourself and accepting yourself, learning to love the dark parts of your soul as well as the light parts -- embracing yourself in all your good, bad, light, dark, and contradictory human glory. I know I, for one, really needed to read it. I'm very glad I did.
Although she makes no overt connection (that I noticed), the LaZelle family in 'A Fistful of Sky' is extremely similar to the magical family in her other novel, 'The Thread the Binds the Bones,' and I'd assume that Hoffman intends them to be cousins, of a sort.
However, I think that 'Fistful of Sky' is the more successful novel. It deals with the plight of Gyp, a young woman who, in addition to dealing with the issues of a loving yet controlling family and the 'normal' traumas of dating, self-image, and thinking about a career, has much more to worry about as well. As I mentioned, she comes from a magical family, and when she goes through 'transition' and gains her power, it turns out to be the rare power of curses. For Gyp, who is essentially a friendly, non-vindictive type who loves baking cookies and curling up with a good book, this is truly a curse. If she doesn't use her power, she will die. Her travails as she attempts, blunderingly, to cast her nasty spells where they'll do the least harm, are charming and amusing - but also insightful, as Hoffman deals subtly with the ways in which we tie ourselves to and interact with others, the dynamics of family, relationships and society...
This is a literally magical book. It was one of the best recreations of what it is like to different as a teenager and then as Gypsum comes in to her powers and her adulthood those crucial lessons of responsbility will take you back to the point where you started to realize that you are responsible for who you will be. Loved it.
Gypsum LaZelle is a misfit in her family. All of her siblings have come into their magical powers, inherited from their beautiful mother, and she has resigned herself to the fact that like her dad she'll have to live her life without the assistance of magic. More than a fantasy, this book delves into the dynamics of this family which is why I find it so interesting (though the magical aspect is very imaginative as well). Gypsum's mother is beautiful, perfect and very controlling. She does some unforgivable things to Gypsum, if you ask me, but much like reality you can't choose your family. Fortunately, Gypsum has a close relationship with her siblings and dad's a good guy.
Eventually, Gypsum falls ill and undergoes her transition and inherits a dark power which is common when transition arrives so late. Fearful of what her power may do she must use it or it will poison her (so says her uncle when she comes to him feeling sick to her stomach). What follows is imaginative look at how Gypsum deals with her curse power and the close family dynamics that help her pull through it with her sanity intact.
Decent read, with some fresh fun ideas in a scifi/fantasy book. an easy and enjoyable read.
i really enjoyed this story, could not put it down
I enjoyed reading this book,wasn't pleased with the ending