Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will break your heart. They can also save a life. Both sentiments are cliche, but hold true in John David Anderson's Posted. Posted is a book of lessons. It reminds me of E. L. Konigsburg's The View From Saturday. It is subtle, understated, and the perfect read aloud. It forces the reader to examine the consequences of empathy that is silent and still, actions that are quiet and cruel, and the bumpy roads between. The pacing leaves room for the reader to process and ponder.
I'm deliberately avoiding the word slow in describing Posted because it holds such a negative connotation when it comes to novels, but it is slow and quiet. It's a Sunday morning instead of a Friday night. Even as the plot moves forward and the characters change and grow it feels like a slow ride, but one with a great view of the world and all its charms. A great view of the world and all its shortcomings.
Just as there are lessons for the reader, the main characters also learn lessons, which are best summed up by The Glory of Love - you've got to give a little, take a little, let your poor heart break a little, laugh a little, cry a little, win a little, lose a little, and always have the blues a little. All of that happens to Frost, Wolf, DeeDee, Bench, and Rose in 384 pages. When I closed the book I was left thinking I'd just read a love story to friendship, the potency of words, and to finding the tribe that is just right for you, but even that description doesn't fully capture Posted. It's complex in its quiet and I'm still working through it all, which makes this the perfect place for bullet points .
What I loved:
Frost - he's a great narrator. He's also believably flawed. A little roughed up by life, but certainly not broken and absolutely still standing. Not to mention, what an outstanding nickname. Just as the real Frost was a master of poetic quiet and subtlety that hides tempests and philosophies, so too is his namesake.
That the question about Wolf was never answered. I love this. It doesn't need to be answered because it wasn't the point and it wasn't the plot. And one day we will live in a post-everything world and while that day is not today I appreciate John David Anderson for taking that first step.
Anderson doesn't shy away from the complexities of friendship. He never pretends that every friend is a forever friend. Life keeps moving and sometimes that means a best friend becomes an acquaintance until one day they become memory.
Posted never pretends that everyone is redeemable. There are some books so dedicated to the idea that everyone can be redeemed, or that there is good in us all that they fail to acknowledge there is also deliberate and intentional cruelty; the perpetrators of that deliberate and intentional cruelty aren't looking for redemption because their ugly is just who they are. Every character shouldn't be redeemed because some books are meant to paint a picture of the world as it is and not as the utopia we wish it to be. Let's be honest we're at the turning point to the right side of history and while I believe one day it will fully arrive and be glorious we aren't there yet, so save fairy tales for fairy tales.
The allusions! Posted is packed with allusions. Allusions may be my favorite literary device. I love teaching them and watching students craft there own. The best allusions in here also speak to my geeky soul.
The origami fish that weren't fish.
Bench. Wonderfully and unapologetically realized.That is all.
Parents that present. There was no off-screen "wah wah WAH was wah" here. Parents are active and aware. We don't meet them all, but we also don't have children roaming around, doing what they want, and living the life Drake sings.
What I didn't love:
I don't need happy endings. I don't even really need endings. However, I do crave answers and I don't enjoy not understanding. For instance, what was the deal with Bench and Rose. Was Rose just his excuse? Am I
supposed to chalk it up to the chaotic whimsy of the adolescent brain? Someone please explain.
Rose. Don't Get me wrong I certainly didn't dislike her, but she also never became more than how I originally saw her. A catalyst. A plot device. A red herring. She was almost, but not quite, a Mary Sue. She wasn't a disappointment or a distraction, but Anderson can write some incredibly complex female characters, so Rose was just a bit underwhelming.
Have you ever seen LOTR: Return of the King? Remember how it had 2.1 million endings? Remember how people in the theater kept standing up when a scene that seemed like an ending would fade to black only for another scene to pop up 10 seconds later? Then eighteen hours later the film actually ended and you stumbled out of the theater to discover you'd missed New Year's Day and it was 2004. Posted had multiple trick endings. Not nearly as many as LOTR: Return of the King, but I was fooled once or twice.
That it ended.
This novel is a classroom must for me. It will definitely be one of my early book talks and possibly the year's first read aloud. This books was made for students, parents, and teachers.