Monday, January 19, 2009

The Unnameables by Ellen Borraem

Medford Runyuin washed up on Island when he was a baby and was raised by the Island's Carver. On Island, everything and everyone is named after its use and nothing useless or unnameable is allowed to stay. Including people. Life is fine and good until Medford turns 14 and is not given the Carver name; near the same time, he and his best friend find an Unnameable object left behind by an ancestor on the island, a weaving of a Goatman in colorful yarns.

This object ultimately leads to the breakdown of the friendship and further isolation for Medford, since he is also guilty of making unnameable objects, beautiful carvings that come from the wood "speaking" to him. And then a Goatman comes to the island......

This is a beautiful book about the usefulness and beauty of art, the meaning of creativity, and the importance of history. Booraem has created a complete world with spare text and simple rules, yet it is a world full of complex relationships and difficult meanings. Like The Giver, we are asked to delve into the meanings of life, community, and humanity in a unique world separate yet similar to our own.

If I could redo my Best of 2008, this book would so be on it. I am off to share it with my artistic friends!

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