by Lizzie K. Foley
First sentence: “High on the top of a majestic mountain, in a spot where every view of the valley below was more breathtaking than the next, was a small town called Remarkable.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Review copy provided by the publisher.
I have to admit up front that any book with the title “Remarkable” has the decks stacked up against it. Because to be remarkable, you have to be so much better than good, you have to be, well… remarkable.
And so it helps that this one, at least in my opinion, is using the word somewhat ironically. See, in a town full of remarkably talented, amazing, wondrous people, ten-year-old Jane Doe is just average. Plain, not especially talented in anything, she goes through life in the shadow of her remarkably talented architect mother, best-seller novelist father, supremely talented painter (of photorealistic portraits) brother, and math genius sister. That’s not even mentioning her grandmother, the mayor. The only person in town who even comes close to Jane in plainness is her grandpa, who people generally seem to forget is there.
From that premise, however, things get both really weird and yet never quite develop in ways that I wanted them to. There’s something about a bell tower and pirates and the sea monster in the lake and a jam feud with the next town and evil genius twins, but it all kind of just seemed like it was a hamster on a wheel: spinning in circles, but never really going anywhere.
I wanted it to be more ironic, more of a parody (it was, to an extent, but not far enough for my tastes), but most of all, I wanted Jane to do something. I wanted her to be a hero, to discover that she was remarkable, in some little way. (You know have the reverse happen: since everyone is remarkable, only those who aren’t labeled as such really are?) Or maybe for everyone else in the town to discover that being remarkable was overrated, and stop discriminating against unremarkable people. But, it just kind of petered out by the end, which I found disappointing.
That said, C really enjoyed reading this one, so maybe it’s a case of me not being the right audience for the book. Which is not really remarkable at all.