I’ve been having a lot of luck with my pull-a-random-book-from-the-library-shelf method. It’s not that random, I suppose. I’m looking for new books (within the last year), and I’m looking for things without any supernatural elements. Pretty soon I’ll be able to return to the fantasy realm…but I’m really enjoying my time here on Mundane Lane. Besides, I get plenty of fantasy with my own work-in-progress.
Oh right! The book review!
Vintage Veronica takes place in one of the coolest settings imaginable: the Clothing Bonanza. It’s a humongous building full of vintage clothing, decorated with (cool) old crap (like an old motorcycle and a VW Bug). Veronica has the great fortune to get a job taking in and processing the consignments, and she often finds amazing articles of clothing. Unfortunately, she can’t wear most of these clothes, as she’s too big. Fat, in her words.
Veronica’s obesity has some impact on her characterization. She’s never been able to keep friends, she hates crowds, and she equates fat with ugly, leaving her with low self-esteem. However, what I really like about this book (beyond the fantastic clothes and the drama with the floor-sale bitches and the romance with Lenny the Lizard Boy) is that Veronica’s obesity is not the focus of anything. It’s a part of who she is, but it doesn’t define the entire plot.
I love an ugly duckling story as much as the next girl, but it doesn’t always have to be that way. What if we discovered we were beautiful without turning into swans? If we stayed socially awkward, or overweight, or attitudinal, or whatever, and could be happy that way? This is not a message the book tells us, because it doesn’t have to. Veronica does her thing, and we come to see past her appearance…just as she does.
Veronica’s voice comes across whether she’s being funny, bitchy, insecure, or smitten. A few times I wanted to put the book down because I could see where it was going as soon as she became “friends” with the two wild girls who rule the sales floor, but I had to keep reading.
*very mild spoilers here*
There was a great sense of fate in this book, like wisdom coming from the mouth of an oddball pothead (is anyone else thinking of The Big Lebowski when they read this book, I wonder?), or Veronica’s epiphany dawning with the falling of clothes from a giant chute. I came out of the book feeling pretty good about the world.
And that Clothing Bonanza? I want to go there.
To learn more about Erica Perl and her books, you can visit her website.